Rising numbers of heads are moving schools or retiring, says John Howson.
IT IS not just superheads who are quitting. This year, has seen a surge in the number of heads who have changed schools or retired.
In the first three months of the new millennium, more than 1,100 primary, secondary and special schools have advertised in The TES for a new head.
That is 300 more than last year, and the biggest spring-term total since the first three months of 1997. And 1997 was a special case: more than 1,300 schools had to look for a new head following the rush for the exit resulting from the changes that year to pension rules.
Normally, 800-900 schools advertise for a new head in the first three months of the year.
Some of this year's increase may have come from heads opting to retire early rather than be involved in performance pay. Hoever, that is unlikely to be the only reason.
The increase in adverts is across the board, affecting both primary and secondary schools. There is no evidence that schools in London are particularly badly affected. Only 105 London schools have been looking for a new head this spring compared with 100 in the same period of 1999.
Of course, it is still too early to tell how easy schools are finding it to fill the greater number of posts on offer. To date, only a small number of schools have had to re-advertise; many of these are small village primaries. The full picture will emerge next term. However, it is likely that, based upon past trends, up to a fifth of primary schools will not make a headship appointment at their first attempt.
John Howson is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. E-mail: Int.firstname.lastname@example.org