In the first two weeks of September, The TES carried nearly 100 pages of adverts for head and deputy head posts. Many werere-advertisements from schools that were unsuccessful when they tried to attract a good field earlier in the year. Among such schools were the City Academy in Bexley and Nord Anglia's joint venture with Surrey, both of whose ads first appeared in July. Generally, the numbers applying for senior posts are low compared with previous levels.
A primary school will do well if it attracts more than seven applications for a headteacher post. Few have attracted more than 50 applications in the past few years. In the secondary sector, the average school now gets fewer than 20 applications for a headteacher post. Few schools attract anywhere near 100 applications.
Not only are applications falling but last year, due to a mixture of bad timing and other factors, some primary schools didn't receive a single application when advertising for a new headteacher.
The introduction of the NPQHheadship qualification - even though it is not yet compulsory - has undoubtedly affected the number of applications received by schools. My recent study, commissioned by the headteacher unions, found that 45 per cent of primary and 65 per cent of secondary deputy heads who were appointed last year to a headship held the NPQH qualification. Interestingly, some 5 per cent of new primary deputy heads and 10 per cent of new secondary school deputies also held the qualification on appointment.
The days of governors having to wade through enormous piles of application forms are now long gone. Fortunately, however, we have not yet reached the position of Hobson's choice when it comes to appointing senior staff in schools.