A government group set up to tackle the headteacher recruitment crisis is warning that local authorities need to do more to ensure posts do not go unfilled – particularly in primary – when it becomes mandatory next year for Scottish school leaders to hold a qualification.
The report from the government’s working group on headteacher recruitment, seen exclusively by Tes Scotland, says “significant concerns” remain about “the long term sustainability of current headteacher recruitment”.
It found ongoing concerns about the retention of headteachers and the reduced number of applicants for headteacher posts. This was impacting, it said, on the quality of candidates councils had to choose from for headteacher posts, as well as – in some cases – the quality of appointments.
It warned that councils needed to give greater consideration to the implications of the Standard for Headship qualification which – after its introduction was previously delayed – is finally due to become mandatory for all Scottish school leaders next year.
The group, which revealed it had explored whether a fast-track headship scheme would help ensure “a pipeline of future school leaders”, said that recruitment to the Into Headship qualification had been “relatively steady” and, since 2015, 262 individuals had completed Into Headship and gained the Standard for Headship.
However, the report also pointed out that in total over 400 teachers held headship qualifications but were not in headteacher roles and that when it came to Into Headship “the balance between primary and secondary participants is not representative of the proportion of schools in each sector”.
The report said: “The working group urges local authorities to give greater consideration to the implications of the mandatory headship qualification for their workforce and in particular to identify and support primary teachers with the potential to take the step to headship.”
It called for the Scottish government and inspection and curriculum body Education Scotland to create a data pack for each council bringing together “teacher census data and Into Headship data to help local authorities plan for their future recruitment needs in different sectors”.
In 2016 a report by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland warned that a dearth of leadership talent could lead to a fall in Scottish school standards unless urgent action was taken to tackle the crisis in headteacher recruitment.
The Working Group on Headteacher Recruitment was established in the wake of that report and its 15 recommendations – completed in September last year - have now been seen by Tes Scotland which had to use freedom of information legislation to obtain a copy of the report.
The report revealed the group considered whether a fast-track headship scheme would be beneficial and Professor Christine Forde of Glasgow University wrote a "scoping paper" exploring fast-track leadership schemes across the public sector.
However, according to the report, the group ultimately concluded “a single fast-track leadership scheme would not best meet the needs of the teaching profession in Scotland”.