29th February 2008 at 00:00
Q: I am a religious studies teacher in my eighth year of teaching. I'm now thinking of taking up a head of department post in another school but I am also interested in an assistant headteacher's post. Which would be the best option for me now?

A: Last year, I surveyed assistant head appointments in 143 secondary schools. Nearly two thirds went to teachers with responsibility allowances, probably mainly heads of department. Only two went to teachers without any responsibilities and, interestingly, only four posts went to Advanced Skills Teachers (not that there are many of those in RE).

From analysing the data, I think you might find it difficult to progress to an assistant headship without having spent some time as a head of department. You seem to be at the right stage of your career, so why not go ahead and apply? Each year, there are between 250 and 300 posts available in maintained schools for heads of RE departments across the country. Salaries attract a TLR2 or a TLR1 (pound;2,364 to pound;11,557) depending on factors such as the size of the school, whether or not it is a faith school and how the head and governors view the subject. Assuming you want eventually to progress to a post on the leadership grade, how long should you remain as a head of department? I think three years is probably the minimum, but you could start looking after two years to decide what type of assistant head post you might apply for when you feel ready.

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at

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,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today