Jobs in Cornwall lose their charm

19th January 2007 at 00:00
Primary head Peter Frost enjoys an idyllic life. His pupils are a delight to teach and after a long day he can step straight on to the beach at Bude, in Cornwall, for walking and kayaking.

But despite the seemingly laid-back lifestyle, new research from Education Data Surveys shows that primary headship in the holiday county may be losing its charm for many.

In the past eight years, Cornwall has gone from having a readvertisement rate for unfilled posts of around 20 per cent to one of 90 per cent.

Headteachers have blamed soaring house prices and the increasing strain on heads in small schools, who often have high teaching workloads and ever increasing administration.

The average price of a home in Cornwall is now around pound;218,000, making it the third most expensive region in the country.

Mr Frost, 48, said: "I would encourage anyone to come here for a headship.

I have enjoyed it a lot and it has provided a great place to bring up my children and work at the centre of the community.

"But I can understand why people are put off. When I moved here in 1992, house prices were a lot lower. I could not afford to live in the house I do now if I was making the move today.

"A lot of it is also down to the increasing pressure and responsibility of the job. There are many smaller schools in Cornwall, and heads don't have the staff to be able to delegate as in larger schools."

Ian Bruce, the NAHT council member for Devon and Cornwall, said the recruitment crisis common to the rest of the country had made its way to the South West.

He added: "We still have a lot of applicants for senior schools in popular places such as St Ives. But when it comes to primaries away from the sea, it doesn't surprise me to see a job readvertised three or four times.

"Applicants like the look of it and then they look on the estate agents'

websites and think 'Blimey'. There is also a huge pressure on heads to deal with data. Headship is now perceived as a difficult job."

A report from the National College of School Leadership showed this week that primary heads with high teaching burdens in small rural schools often choose to move to bigger schools to relieve the pressure.

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