Pension change drives out head teachers

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The Independent Online
An unprecedented exodus of headteachers has been triggered by the Government's changes to teachers' pension arrangements. Vacancies for heads are at record levels - up almost a third on the same time last year - and advertisements for primary heads are up by more than a half.

Under the new pension rules, to be introduced in September, the main responsibility for pension payments will be shifted from the Treasury to hard-pressed local authorities.

Ministers originally proposed to bring in the changes from April but backed down under pressure from teachers' unions. Critics warned that the postponement would mean even more teachers flocked to retirement. The resignation crisis is most noticeable among primary heads.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the new government would need immediately to tackle the problem. "It is the culmination of persistent attacks on the teaching profession. Heads don't feel they get the recognition they deserve," he said. "The politicians are talking about how to improve teachers' status by means other than pay and conditions but it is improved pay and conditions that will stop the exodus of heads."

Yesterday's Times Educational Supplement, the teachers' trade paper, contained advertisements for 175 primary heads. Last week the figure was 168. The total for the same two weeks last year was 199.

Mr Hart said the number of acting heads was at an all-time record because schools cannot find suitable candidates for headships.

A spokesman for the Local Government Management Board, the teachers' employers organisation, said:"Schools have to do a balancing act between getting another classroom teacher, paying the head more and buying more books."