'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

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now