If you think we’ve got a leadership recruitment problem now; you ain’t seen anything yet. There’s a tsunami of job vacancies coming over the next five years and a dearth of high quality applicants. We’re coming to this issue too late and in a piecemeal way.
What’s the minimum time it takes to grow a school leader? Does it vary from primary to secondary to special school or is it about the same. What do you need to bring to the table to be an effective leader in terms of skills, knowledge and experiences?
A mad dash to London on Tuesday afternoon, following two meetings and four admission appeal hearings in the morning, and an equally hasty retreat back North on Wednesday morning, in time to deliver training to Directors on the new primary school assessments followed by the full Board Meeting, allowed me to sandwich in a meeting over dinner. Chatham House rules apply so please keep this post between the two of us.
The latest Academies Financial Handbook emphasises “that all trusts must have a senior executive leader who should also be appointed as accounting officer, and that these roles must not rotate”. The creation of more CEOs, to lead multi academy trusts, is a bit of a double edged sword. Putting aside many current head teachers don’t want to be line managed; appointing CEOs will increase the number of head teacher vacancies. The hope has to be that we can lighten a head teacher’s load, act as a mentor and coach and form a cross schools leadership team that makes headship more attractive.
We need more leaders; should we accelerate teachers through to senior leadership or look to recruit from outside the profession. Nine years after walking into the class room I walked in to an office with “Deputy Headteacher” on the door. Had I enough experience to be a senior leader in an 11-18 school of over a thousand students; how much is it reasonable to learn on the job and how much do you need at the starting gate? Cards on the table I like my senior leaders to have class room experience. Our business is teaching, assessment and learning. Making wise decisions as a headteacher needs you to be rooted in our core daily activity.
Does every school need a headteacher could a future model look like: CEO leading a number of executive headteachers, with substantive deputies in each school, and headteachers in a more mixed economy? It’s already happening in a number of schools but seems to be in response to a crisis rather than a deliberate strategy. What would encourage you into headship?
Part of the problem we face is that we are collectively pants at developing leaders. There’s some great work going on in leadership development but these bright spots are too few and far between. Your development as a school leader is far too much down to chance and the luck of the draw. A long term, systematic development programme needs to sit alongside a fundamental culture shift; leading to more people wanting to become senior leaders and headteachers. We may yet avoid the looming crisis.
#ThursdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week. The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short. It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger. The intention is for it to be read in two/three minutes as you’re busy running around at the end of the week or relaxing on your day off.