Carrots, not sticks, will attract the best

14th March 2003 at 00:00
High salaries, hard work and huge turnover. These are often the realities facing the heads of schools with the lowest percentages of students gaining the benchmark five A* - C.

The 1990s were a decade when many of these schools witnessed a steady procession of new headteachers, some of whom stayed for three of four years before moving on, or moving out to early retirement.

Though some leadership qualities are common to all headteacher posts, some are not. Heads who have flourished in a school which has a stable staff and supportive parents may not be adequately prepared for the leadership of a school with rapid staff and pupil turnover, high anxiety levels and belligerent parents, however well-funded it is. Add to that the demands to achieve improvements or face closure and a fresh start and it is obvious why some of these schools struggle in the marketplace for new heads.

Heads of challenging schools, along with all their staff, need support and encouragement, carrots not sticks. The age profile of the profession is leaving many wondering where the next generation of heads is going to come from.

The Government's aim must be to secure the brightest and best leaders for the most challenging schools, to train them appropriately and, finally, not to leave them unsupported once they have been appointed.

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today