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 firstname.lastname@example.org.