Dark, empty school room filled with graffitti

Education charities have warned that schools in England could need an extra 19,000 head teachers and deputies by 2022.

Almost one in four schools across the country could be affected by a lack of headteachers, deputy heads and assistant heads, due to an increase in pupil numbers, more school leaders retiring and leaving the profession early, and increasing demand for senior staff to work at academy trusts.

The report also notes that many schools are experiencing problems in recruiting staff and schools spend up to an estimated £200m a year on recruitment, with many failing to find the quality of candidate they require.

It concludes that there are four main issues in finding school leaders: potential headteachers are put off by some of the challenges of the job; the profession lacks a culture of development and feedback; recruitment of headteachers is inconsistent; and leaders do not feel they get enough support or feel motivated to stay in leadership roles.

Secondary schools are currently the most affected, but by 2022, the issue will also be having an impact on primaries. Schools teaching the most disadvantaged students are the most likely to be hit by a lack of staff.

The report, entitled the School Leadership Challenge, was published by the education charities the Future Leaders Trust, Teach First and Teaching Leaders and called for a new generation of school leaders to be developed by supporting them to move up the career ladder. They also suggest that more should be done to support school leaders and improve perceptions of the role, and that the pool of candidates able to take on non-teaching senior roles could be expanded by looking at people outside the profession.

However the Department for Education has stated that it doesn’t recognise the figures of the report. They note that the latest school workforce data shows that there are 68,800 full-time equivalent leaders in state schools in England, adding that since 2010 the proportion of schools reporting a headteacher vacancy has decreased and the number of school leaders over the age of 50 has decreased significantly.

Salaries for head teachers vary from around £54,000 at a primary school to as much as £108,000 at a large secondary. Chief executives running a number of schools in an academy chain can earn £250,000 a year.