Wanted: RC heads

11th February 2000 at 00:00
CATHOLIC schools find it harder than their county or Church of England counterparts to recruit headteachers, writes Clare Dean.

With an on-going national shortage of headteachers, an analysis of vacancies reveals serious problems for the 1,700 English Catholic schools.

Of the Catholic schools that advertised for a new head in The TES during the 9899 school year, four out of 10 were unsuccessful with their first advert.

Across the country, around 80 per cent of secondary and 75 per cent of primary headships were filled straightaway.

Key to the problem for Catholic schools is the church's insistence that its heads must be practising members of the faith.

Few headteachers in Catholic schools now come from religious orders and there are anecdotal stories of parish priets being unhappy about women from the laity being offered headships. It is rumoured they prefer "a man for the job - someone to do the business with".

Oona Stannard, from the Catholic Education Service, said such stories were out-dated and were not how priests and governing bodies worked.

But recognising that it does have a problem in filling headships, the CES is considering in-service training or distance-learning programmes for Catholics teaching in secular schools.

"There are Catholic teachers who are making invaluable contributions to the county sector and in many ways that is very healthy," said Mrs Stannard. "I don't think they always realise how much they would be appreciated and valued if they wanted to come back to the Catholic sector."

Hot Data, 23

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