'Poor leaders' drive staff out of London

14th April 2000 at 01:00
POOR leadership is the biggest reason for experienced teachers quitting London classrooms.

One of the largest studies of the capital's teacher shortage has concluded that staff are not just being put off the city by soaring house prices and the challenges of inner-city schools. Forty-five per cent of those leaving London - often to drop out of teaching altogether - put their decision down to "management issues".

Researchers at the University of North London found the problem was particularly acute in London because many schools struggle to recruit a headteacher.

Primary schools on average received only four applications per headship post. This had a knock-on effect on teachers, many of whom left because the resulting appointments were "perceived as having poor management skills".

One teacher said: "I decided to leave because of the constant bullying... by the headteacher. Every summer between five and eight staff left."

The report, Teacher Supply and Retention in London 1998-99, compiled for the Teacher Training Agency, concludes: "Large numbers were... moving out of London or leaving teaching altogether, because of their perceptions of poor leadership."

The report - based on a survey of nearly 3,000 teachers ad an additional questionnaire completed by 450 teachers and heads leaving schools - does give examples of excellent leadership. It also acknowledges that teachers' comments can be "one-sided". Nonetheless, many heads were perceived to be "simply not up to the job".

It comes a month after ministers acknowledged the importance of dynamic leadership by offering to pay a new cadre of "superheads" pound;100,000 to turn around groups of up to five struggling schools.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I do not think teachers understand the pressures on London heads. Running London schools is a bed of nails for headteachers." He acknowledged, however, that many schools were struggling to recruit heads from often "very inadequate" fields of applicants.

The study suggests that local authorities should headhunt good classroom teachers to fill senior posts at their schools.

It also claims that 40 per cent of teachers plan to leave the capital in the next five years. The study is to be extended across 22 authorities, with findings updated termly.

Leader, 14

Hot Data, 21

The report is available free from the TTA on 0845 606 0323, or e-mail: publications@ttalit.co.uk

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today