A RECORD number of headteacher vacancies was advertised in The TES last month.
Schools last month placed ads for 469 headships - the highest total for at least six years. None was a re-advertisement. In March 2000, 415 headships were advertised. Five issues of The TES were published in each month.
Recruitment analyst John Howson, visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University, said heads were suffering from bureaucracy overload. "They feel the effects of the red tape more than most.
"They are realising now that there are routes back into teaching, such as supply work, and fewer incentives to stay put."
The figures, collected by Professor Howson since 1995, mean that 1,101 headships have been advertised since January. This is a slight increase on the first three months of 2000, when there were 1,06 vacancies.
They are not quite up to the level of the first three months of 1997, when 1,325 were advertised. In March 1997, though, just 358 headships were advertised.
Professor Howson said there was evidence that some parts of the country, notably Devon and Lancashire, were having problems filling vacancies in small schools.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Heads are going because they are fed up with the pressure.
"This is much more than a salaries issue. It's about the intense pressure they are under and about what I consider to be the most acutely accountable job in public service in this country."
Mr Hart said the School Teachers Review Body had to recognise there were recruitment and retention problems over headships and recommend changes to heads' salaries and conditions of service.
"We simply cannot afford to lose so many senior staff from schools."