Head calls for action after recruitment crisis warning

Mark Trott
Mark Trott

THE HEAD teacher at the town’s biggest primary school says the government must do all it can to make the job of head teacher more attractive, after a report warned the lack of aspiring heads could become an urgent issue.

A study by the National Association of Head Teachers said there was likely to be a ‘recruitment crisis’ in senior education posts.

The report states, “The decline in vacancies for deputy headships this year (2011) is very concerning. Vacancies for headships have not fallen at the same rate and as existing deputies come closer to retiring, there is a real danger that schools will face even greater difficulty in recruiting head teachers in years to come if there is not an available and ample supply of deputy head teachers from which to draw candidates.”

Mark Trott, head of Ocklynge School in Victoria Drive, said, “I have been a head teacher for more than 20 years and although I have found the job very demanding, I have also found it to be immensely rewarding and fulfilling.

“To be able to influence and guide the lives of young people, to see them learn and achieve and to influence their values and attitudes, is a rare privilege as well as a heavy responsibility. The demands, expectations and accountability of head teachers have steadily risen over the years along with the skills, knowledge and expertise required to be successful.

“One person does not make a school successful, but it is also true to say that there is no successful school without a high performing head teacher. Sadly, the number of teachers aspiring to be head teachers is diminishing and this makes it harder to find the right person when a vacancy arises.

“Our local and national governments need to do all they can to make the job of head teacher more attractive if our best young teachers are to fill the shoes of the many head teachers due to retire in the next few years.”

It is thought the absence of a tail-off in retirement levels for existing heads and the new wave of academies and free schools could result in recruitment problems. The National Association of Head Teachers also feels higher salaries being offered by free schools and academies could ‘lure teachers away from traditional schools’.

There is currently a group of teachers in the area who have formed the East Sussex Free School Group and are calling on parents and other teachers to support their move away from traditional state education.

This news comes in the same week that Ratton and Cavendish both announced they would be consulting on whether their school should become academies.