Headship not a 'heroic' notion

6th November 2009 at 00:00
Teachers shun the top job - but much of the pressure on heads is `self-imposed'

It is the same story - from York to New York, from Oban to Ontario, few teachers want to become heads and those who do are often overwhelmed by the all-consuming demands of the job.

The report, issued this week by academics from Cambridge, Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, paints a paradoxical picture, as the authors concede: school leaders appear to be enjoying more autonomy, yet they feel they have less room for manoeuvre.

Their conclusions pose a huge challenge for leadership in schools, at a time when everyone from the Education Secretary down is exercised about its key importance.

The issue does not appear to be one of shunning responsibility or lacking ambition. While only 8 per cent of teachers saw themselves as future heads, 14 per cent aspired to become a depute, 18 per cent a principal teacher and 11 per cent a chartered teacher.

Over the next two to three years, a critical period for the recruitment of new heads as incumbents retire, only 3 per cent of teachers said they would apply for a headship vacancy and just 8 per cent for a depute post; 40 per cent had no intention of leaving the classroom.

Those closest to headship - depute heads - cited a variety of factors which would deter them from going one step further up the ladder. These were:

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