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19th September 2014 at 01:00

Let's get serious about school leadership

It is often said that the two main factors governing school performance are the quality of teachers and the quality of leadership. And there are three factors in attracting quality applications for school leadership roles: preparation, the desirability of the role and remuneration.

Work to improve "preparation" for leadership roles is now under way through the new Scottish College for Educational Leadership. I applaud the Scottish government for committing to this. Given time and space to grow, the college will surely become a real asset.

The "desirability" of the advertised role is very much linked to "remuneration". Yes, there are those for whom the opportunity to lead a school is motivation enough, but I have lost count of the number of times that people have told me they will not apply for headship as the increased workload and accountability are not in line with the rewards on offer.

Indeed, the salary differential between roles has diminished in the past few years with the introduction of (wholly unjustifiable) tiered pension contributions. And then there is the job-sizing toolkit, the mechanism for arriving at school leader salaries. In addition to its many flaws, the toolkit is unable to properly assess roles such as multi-school headships because they did not exist when it was designed.

If we are serious about school leadership then we need to get serious about attracting people into these roles - revisiting job-sizing would be a very good start.

Greg Dempster
General secretary, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland

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