Solving the Recruitment Gap

A Scottish Government Report on the Recruitment and Retention of Headteachers in Scotland  (2009) evidenced the growing crisis in recruiting headteachers in Scotland:

There is an increasing focus on these issues in many countries where recruitment and retention of senior leaders has attained “crisis” status, impacting with particular force in areas seen by aspirants as less desirable, such as schools located in inner cities and less accessible rural communities.

Three years on the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better – particularly in the Primary School setting.

A combination of factors including, a relatively small pay differential between primary Headteachers and Deputes; relatively few principal teachers who have sufficient management experience to make the jump; and a perception by many that the job is too demanding.

In the next few weeks East Lothian is to advertise 7 headteacher vacancies and I am concerned that we won’t receive sufficient interest for all of the posts.  It was with this in mind that had a chat with a colleague who is a Principal Teacher in a secondary school.  An exceptionally talented individual she is concerned that the reduction in senior management posts in secondary schools will limit her prospects of gaining further management experience.  I asked her if she would be interested in a management post in a primary school. Her reaction was very positive and it seems to me to be a worthy of consideration – especially with the 3-18 focus for Curriculum for Excellence. In fact I wrote about this possibility a few years ago for TESS Leadership Skills – are they transferable?  I am convinced that such scheme would create a surge of interest from committed teachers who have significant management experience which would transfer successfully to a primary school environment.

The main obstacle for such a thing to happen is the qualifications barrier – secondary teachers are not qualified to teach in primary schools. However, perhaps there is a solution. What if a person wishing to be considered for a Management post in primary school had undertaken – or committed to complete the On-line post graduate certificate in primary education offered by Aberdeen University? What if the authority paid for half of the £900 fee? Are there any people out there who would be interested in such an opportunity?

And before anyone asks – yes I do think that primary teachers could manage in a secondary school environment!

Drop me an e-mail if this is something you would like to follow up.




4 thoughts on “Solving the Recruitment Gap

  1. Don,
    I note with interest the burgeoning level of interim school management posts on offer in England supplied by private recruitment agencies. Are interim HT appoinmtments a way to buy more time to recruit effectively for this demanding role? There are surely a number of recently retired HT’s who are well known to the authority who would be willing to provide short term supply for these posts on a short term basis as per supply teaching posts. Backfilling posts is surely difficult when acting up is on the table.
    Just a thought!

  2. Disappointed at the GTCS short sighted response at blocking great leaders in the secondary sector from applying for HT posts in the primary sector and vice versa. Know of excellent secondary colleagues with outstanding leadership skills, people who could bring real lasting change and enable others to do so. Leaders who would have excelled in giving the opportunity to lead a primary school. People, who as a primary teacher, I would have followed. Would the GTCS consider a pilot scheme with someone who is willing to do the conversion course? Is the proposal to have a unified workforce for a unified curriculum a moot subject in their realm now?

  3. Dear Don,
    if you are in charge of education in your local authority there is nothing stopping you from instructing HR to remove from the essential criteria references to needing to be qualified to teach in the primary sector. In fact several years ago the GTCS loosened the restrictions on teachers moving between the primary and secondary sectors.


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