'Compromise' head not to be repeated

4th July 2008 at 01:00
The appointment of a non-Catholic to lead two Catholic schools in the Borders is a "compromise" and will not be repeated, according to Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service
The appointment of a non-Catholic to lead two Catholic schools in the Borders is a "compromise" and will not be repeated, according to Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service.

For the first time, a member of the Church of Scotland, Morag McCreadie, will take over the running at St Joseph's Primary in Selkirk and St Margaret's Primary in Hawick.

Ms McCreadie, 37, depute head at Drumlanrig Primary in Hawick, is on a temporary one-year contract and will be known as a "manager of learning" rather than headteacher. She will be supported by a principal teacher in each primary, responsible for their Catholic dimension.

The decision had been taken, said Mr McGrath, because of the Scotland-wide shortage of headteachers. Catholic schools had "an even smaller pool of talent to draw from", he pointed out.

In future, however, the Catholic Church plans to tackle headteacher shortages by encouraging teachers in promoted posts to be "more ambitious" and targeting potential leaders early. At one time, according to Mr McGrath, headship would have been seen as the "automatic next step". But now staff were questioning if the pay and additional responsibilities were worth it.

The Borders appointment was "a response to a particular situation" and would not be part of their new strategy - although he acknowledged that "situations can change".

Mr McGrath continued: "Clearly our preference would be to have a headteacher responsible for all areas of the school. What's been arrived at here is a compromise."

According to the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, the average number of applications for each headteacher post has dropped from 5.4 in 2002-05 to 4.9 in 2005-08, with 35 per cent of headteacher jobs having to be re-advertised over the past three years. This showed the lack of appeal for headship and the lack of quality in those who do apply.

"These issues need to be investigated. They back up the importance of the research going on into the recruitment and retention of headteachers," said Mr Dempster.

Last week, The TESS revealed how Scottish Borders Council plans to deal with the shortage by merging eight to 12 schools and replacing them with four to six larger ones, and increasing the number of shared headships so that all heads are non-teaching. Currently, seven headteachers run more than one school: this is to be extended to just 42 heads managing 65 primaries.

The EIS, however, argued that "there should be a headteacher for every school". Shared headship, they claimed, leads to problems with workload and stress.

Letters p22.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now