Post-Covid exodus: Half of heads more likely to leave

Call for more government support for heads as NAHT survey also finds that 70% are less satisfied in job than they were a year ago

Tes Reporter

The NAHT has warned that schools could face a post-Covid exodus of school leaders.

Nearly half of school leaders said they are more likely to leave their role prematurely due to the pandemic, a survey suggests.

And more than two thirds (70 per cent) reported being less satisfied in their leadership role than this time last year, according to the poll by school leaders’ union NAHT.

The government could face a “post-covid exodus of school leaders” from the profession if it fails to provide more support, the education union has warned.

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The survey, of 2,061 school leaders in October, found that 47 per cent are now less likely to remain in school leadership for as long as initially planned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Members overwhelmingly disagreed (88 per cent) with Ofsted conducting interim visits this term, while only six per cent of respondents said they supported the watchdog’s plan to resume full inspections from January.

The findings come as a new NAHT report calls for every school in the country to have a professional development lead as part of a plan to support school improvement.

Nick Brook, NAHT’s deputy general secretary, said: “School leaders have shown exceptional determination, courage and optimism in leading their teams to support pupils through these extremely difficult times.

“It is therefore deeply concerning that many school leaders are considering leaving the profession prematurely, once they have guided their schools through this crisis.”

He added: “When we emerge from the pandemic, there can be no sense of merely flicking a switch and returning to the way things were, with all the same fault-lines as before. And we cannot wait until the pandemic passes before considering how education must change in the future.

“A post-Covid revolution is needed to prevent a post-Covid exodus of school leaders.”

The report from the NAHT calls for greater support and professional development for teachers and leaders to make sure schools are well set up to respond to future challenges.

It also says more incentives and enhanced support should be given to school leaders working in the most deprived communities.

Councillor Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “The importance of schools and their hardworking staff, who are their most valuable asset in securing improved outcomes for children, has been heightened during the pandemic.

“We need to do all we can to support the retention of good school leaders and teachers, which requires every school to have the necessary funds to invest and prioritise high quality staff development.”

Labour’s shadow schools minister Wes Streeting said: “Labour has consistently called for proper support for school leaders and a system of accountability that genuinely improves the learning experience for children and young people.

“We will only get the best out of our pupils if we get the best out of our teachers, support staff and school leaders which requires good quality training and professional development.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, progress to close the gap between pupils from the most and least disadvantaged backgrounds was not only stalling under this government, but slipping into reverse.

“The government must urgently refocus its attention on tackling educational disadvantage to prevent an entire generation of children from being left behind.”

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