The Revolving Door of Headteachers

We are facing a recruitment crisis. We all know it – despite having to constantly hear from the government that teacher numbers are rising and that it is the unions talking down the profession. As a member of the NAHT Executive I take particular exception to this. When you sit in a room with colleagues from around the country and hear how they are all struggling to recruit. Let’s be clear about this. Houston we have a problem!

Yet, this crisis is not just about teachers. We are facing a crisis in recruiting headteachers (not just this side of pond either). The Times recently carried out research that revealed that one in ten schools is losing its headteacher each year. Some schools have been left without a head for up to three years and that some local authorities have seen more headteachers leaving the past five years that the number of schools in the area.

‘Schools are blighted by a revolving door of head teachers as many of them retire or take early retirement, leave the profession, take up opportunities abroad…’



The million dollar question of course is – what is the answer to this crisis? I was at a recent event listening to an Ofsted Inspector talking about leadership and succession planning. Herein lies the challenge. In order to plan for succession you need teachers to stay in education for more than a couple of years and you need experienced leaders stay in education, so as to role model great leadership to them. When asked if Ofsted had a solution – it was neatly batted back to the profession as our problem to solve. Great! Leaders are leaving in droves – we are struggling to recruit teachers – budgets are being slashed. Thanks for that! Fortunately, we are a driven and solution focussed profession!

Yes, Mr Ofsted Inpsector we can identify talent. Yes, we can fast-track this talent. Yes, we can take the altruistic approach and applaud when our teachers and leaders leave schools and join others knowing that they are still in the system. If only this was a true reflection of the educational landscape. In reality, if you are trying to turn a school around and you also happen to be located in an area of deprivation and in a known hard to recruit area – it is a mammoth task trying to get teachers in schools and then get them to stay. Leaders of these schools are taking ‘resilience’ to another level, when constantly faced with having to rely on the revolving door of supply teachers just to get someone in class (at least someone is profiting). I’m not even going to go into the numerous other challenges faced by our increasingly stressed headteachers.

So, and the reason for my blog. Let’s champion our leaders. I would like to invite leaders to share their success stories with the world via the twittersphere using #talkupleaders (here I must thank Paul Garvey of Talk for Teaching who started #talkupteaching you can follow him @PaulGarvey4).

Let’s spread some light and positivity on our epic profession! #talkupleaders