A mass exodus of headteachers as they reach retirement means that Scotland will have to appoint the equivalent of a new head every school working day for the next decade.
Matthew MacIver, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, gave the dire warning to secondary headteachers meeting near Edinburgh last week, as they debated the recruitment crisis in school leadership.
Almost 44 per cent of secondary heads are aged over 55 (173), and 83.5 per cent are over 50 (330), Mr MacIver told the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. In primary, 730 headteacher posts (32 per cent) will have to be filled in the next five years and 1,562 (68 per cent) in the next 10.
"In the next five years we will have to appoint around 900 new heads, and in the next 10 years, 1,900," he said. "Assuming a working year of 200 days, what I am saying is that for the next 10 years we will, as a country, have to appoint one headteacher a day."
The new generation of young heads would bring their own dynamism and enthusiasm to the job, but there was a danger that they would eventually enter into a comfort zone that could last for many years.
Mr MacIver said he had no problem with the creation of alternative routes to the Standard for Headship. But he was concerned that control of the new, more flexible route to the SFH lay with the leadership board set up by the Scottish Executive - not the GTC.
"At the moment, there is a danger that the governance of the Standard for Headship will lie with the great and the good," he said. "That must not be allowed to happen. The Standard for Headship and its governance must lie with the professional body.
"What I do not want in a country like Scotland is one section of the profession, that is, head-teachers, to be different from the rest of the profession."
He also suggested the creation of a new Standard for Leadership within the standards framework, which would be aimed at principal teachers and faculty heads. His thinking was prompted in part by the Auditor General's report into the national teachers' agreement, which found that 74 per cent of probationers saw becoming a chartered teacher as the way to progress - mainly, he suspected, because that was the only route available to them at the moment.
A career in leadership did not sit well with the philosophy underpinning the chartered teacher programme, he suggested, but the creation of a Standard for Leadership could fill that vacuum.