JOB market surveys show employers are forced to think more carefully about how they offer headship posts and to be more open-minded about who they take on.
Figures from analysts Education Data Surveys show 36 per cent of primaries, 29 per cent of secondaries and 48 per cent of special schools failed to appoint a new head teacher after their first job advertisement in 2006.
These figures are a slight improvement on 2005 but the number of primary headships on the market - 2,147 - was the highest since 2000. This was despite an increasing number of school amalgamations and closures.
Catholic schools have experienced their seventh year in a row with a job readvertisement rate of over 50 per cent.
The South West now has the highest readvertisement rate outside inner London, at 46 per cent.
Experts put this down to rising house prices and increasing pressure for heads of rural schools grappling alone with paperwork.
Figures for readvertisement in Wales have remained low and stable for several years, between 16 and 21 per cent.
In his 22nd annual survey of senior staff appointments Professor John Howson concluded that the labour market remained in a state of "some crisis".
He said: "Too many schools are being left to rely upon either acting heads, or a head from a different school who has to cover two or more schools.
This is not the way to create a world class system."
Jean McEntire, chief executive of the National Governors Association, said she was encouraging all governing bodies to prepare themselves for tough times ahead. She said: "Governors have to think about how they are marketing the school and the job, and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes."
The NGA is running conferences for governors with the National College for School Leadership to encourage them to consider solutions, including job shares and co-headships.
Mrs McEntire said: "There can be reluctance and resistance, so we get them to meet heads who are in job share situations to convince them it can be done.
"We are also trying to change the perception that a good head must have 20 years' experience."