Meet headteachers to stop exodus, MP tells Gibb

Exclusive: Labour MP and former teacher Emma Hardy urges schools minister to relieve 'increasing pressures' facing heads

Labour MP Emma Hardy

A Labour MP and former teacher has called on the schools minister to address the "increasing pressures of school leadership", as she fears stress and "over-bureaucratic accountability" are driving heads from the profession.

In a letter addressed to Nick Gibb, Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, said she had "grave concerns" about the retainment of school leaders, and urged the schools minister to meet with headteachers to discuss "concrete and practical changes" to remedy the situation.

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She wrote: "As you are aware, we already have an issue with retention of classroom teachers and I fear this may now be extending to leadership. Loss of good leadership can only increase the problems facing classroom teachers.

Losing headteachers

"The beginning of a new decade is the perfect opportunity for a new approach and new ways to work together to support our excellent school leaders. I am therefore writing to request that you meet with a small number of headteachers to discuss concrete and practical changes that could be made to reverse the increasing pressures of school leadership."

Ms Hardy said her concern was exacerbated by the recent resignation of respected academy head Stephen Tierney, who reportedly blamed "excess stress, over-bureaucratic accountability and a focus on exam results as the sole arbiter of a successful school" for his departure.

Mr Tierney was chief executive of Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust in Blackpool, and had spent almost 20 years working in school leadership in the town.

Ms Hardy added: "One of the areas where I am sure we agree is that attracting excellent candidates, developing them into high-quality teachers and then retaining them is essential for pupils to have the opportunities they need to flourish.

"Effective school leadership teams are essential to this process, so it should be of great concern to everyone involved in education that we are seeing leaders of the calibre of Stephen leaving the profession for the reasons given."

The Labour MP also requested a meeting with Mr Gibb to "discuss further the problems of peer-on-peer abuse in schools and explore solutions to a situation which appears to have flown under the radar for far too long".

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We want to make sure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession which is why we published our teacher recruitment and retention strategy last year, which sets out to attract and retain a strong and passionate workforce.

“We have also announced a 2.75 per cent pay rise for teachers, alongside outlining plans for starting salaries to rise to £30,000 by 2022-23.”

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