Teachers `reluctant to seek headships' Headteacher vacancies harder to fill

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The Independent Online
Primary schools cannot recruit headteachers because teachers do not want to take on responsibility for cutting budgets, according to a survey published yesterday.

The number of readvertisements for primary headteachers has risen for the first time for five years. In inner and outer London, 29 per cent of primary schools had to readvertise headteacher posts last year, an increase of 3 and 11 per cent respectively.

The survey from Oxford Brookes University shows that 20 per cent more primary headships were advertised last year than in 1993 - again the first increase for five years.

Secondary schools had less difficulty recruiting heads, but face a shortage of maths and language teachers, with applications for the two subjects down 17 per cent this year.

The survey's author, John Howson, said: "The figures contain some warning signs for the Government. Although recruitment to primary teacher training courses is healthy, teachers may be reluctant to become heads if it means managing reduced budgets and making former colleagues redun- dant."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Increases in stress-related ill health, retirements and excessive workloads, coupled with the removal of deputy headteacher posts as a consequence of the underfunding of school budgets will inevitably cause the problem to worsen."

He pointed out the pay of primary school deputy heads is likely to be less than £1,000 more than a teacher receiving the most common responsibilities payment.

The survey shows a dramatic rise in the number of headteacher vacancies: 1,790 were advertised last year compared with 1,509 in 1993.

Secondary schools may do better than primaries, suggests the study, because they can afford better salaries: Holland Park School in London recently advertised for a new head on a salary of up to £60,000.

Mr Howson comments on the increasing sums being spent on advertisements for heads. by governors. "There is no hard evidence that bigger and more costly advertisements encourage more applicants."

Roman Catholic schools have particular difficulties, with 31 per cent requiring new heads - up 40 per cent on the previous year.

Mr Howson, who has conducted a similar survey for the past 10 years, examines the rate of readvertisement for headteacher posts.

London and the South-east top the list for the highest level of readvertised posts. In cities outside London, with the exception of Merseyside, it has improved. In most regions apart from the North-west and East Anglia, however, it is worse.

The study also shows that, for the first time, women teachers outnumber men in both primary and secondary schools. Mr Howson, argues that this is worrying given the poor performance of boys at GCSE.

Eighty five per cent of those who started primary training in 1993 were women. For secondary training, the figure was 52 per cent.

Mr Howson asks: "Do boys perform less well when only taught by women and do girls perform better, particularly at the formative early years and primary stages of education?"