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Talent falls by wayside

Rewards are too small and stresses too great for teachers to become heads, the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru hears

Talented teachers are being put off from applying for head and deputy posts because of government bureaucracy, lack of financial incentives and seeing the increasing workloads of their own leaders, according to the new president-elect of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru.

Steve Bowden, who took up his new responsibilities this week, says there is a need to attract more teachers into roles that are "challenging but rewarding". But it is difficult when pay and conditions remain largely untouched, giving teachers little incentive to seek promotion.

"Our workload is growing, our responsibilities are increasingly demanding,"

he said. "Our work-life balance has not improved. A recent survey indicates that classroom teachers are working fewer hours as a result of workload reforms, but our leadership teams are working longer - on average 62 hours a week - because of our commitment to community focused schools and the number of consultations and meetings.

"If we are out of school during the day, the work still needs to be done when we get back. Teachers see leaders who are working these extremely long hours and it does not encourage them to move up."

Mr Bowden, head of the 1,400-pupil Porth county community school in Rhondda Cynon Taf, said school and college leaders face an educational agenda that has grown substantially in recent years. With six major consultations to respond to in January alone, battling workload is a constant challenge to which there is no easy solution.

But one issue he wants to see resolved above any other during his term as president is school funding arrangements, which could be the catalyst to providing the answers to other problems.

"We want to see the money coming down to schools to reduce the uncertainty we face at this time of year, and to allow us to be financially creative and find local solutions for our schools," he said.

"It's now time to also look at reviewing the formulae to make sure that it is activity-led and works effectively for all schools."

Having been ASCL branch secretary for Rhondda Cynon Taf, treasurer on the executive committee as well as vice-president for the past year, Mr Bowden says he has had a taste of the challenges that lie ahead.

With the forthcoming National Assembly elections and a possible change of government in May, he says heads and college leaders face a "demanding and interesting time".

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