Over the past 10 years there has been a big drop in the percentage of teachers in their 30s. Overall, less than a quarter of teachers now are in their 30s and for women teaching in primaryschools the figure is less than one in five. This change is particularly significant where it impacts on the number of deputy heads in primary schools between the ages of 35 and 44. In March 1999 there were only just over 5,000 of these. As this group provides the main source of new headteachers, this is a cause for concern.
In an average year about 2,000 primary schools are looking to appoint a new head. About 1,500 of these posts are filled from the ranks of the deputy heads, with the remainder filled by existing heads changing schools. Thus, with the current age profile of the teaching profession, appointing new heads in primary schools will increasingly mean either persuading the over-45s to take on a headship for the first time or training more teachers in their early 30s for the role.