Apprentice Headteachers

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According to the Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw, the need to recruit good future leaders for England’s schools should be an urgent priority for the Government. He believes it is critical to have a national system that identifies, trains and nurtures teachers with leadership potential.

Sir Michael Wilshaw recently gave a paper to the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, setting out his thoughts and plans on how to ensure Britain’s schools have the strongest leaders possible for the future. Whilst giving evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee, Sir Michael stated how he felt more should be done to guide talent for the future and questioned if the national education system has a strategy in place to identify potential talent early in their careers. “We need to make sure we have a national system which identifies teachers with potential leadership capabilities and identify them and move them into leadership positions as soon as possible.”

Sir Michael continued to tell the committee that school leaders’ pay needs to be publicised, making it common knowledge to graduates that when taking on senior positions, they could be earning more than £100,000 a year as school leaders and even more as leaders of multi-academy trusts. “We should publicise that if you’re good and you want to make teaching your career, you can do very well financially” he told MPs.

So what is stopping Britain’s current talent from taking leadership positions? Sir Michael believes that more is needed to be done by the government in a bid to boost the status of teaching and to start attracting more good candidates for anything to improve. He warned that improvements to England’s education system would be undermined if drastic actions were not made to try and tackle the current teacher shortages.

The government had recently said that the overall number of teachers had risen in the past year, and blames unions for ‘talking down’ the profession. However Sir Michael Wilshaw thinks “what we’ve got to do as a country is to make sure we get more people applying for teacher training – and we’re not doing that successfully”.

Wilshaw’s plan is to have ‘talent spotters’ who will identify teachers early in their careers and then encourage them to seek promotion into leadership positions that he dubbed ‘apprentice heads’. The plan would see regional directors at the national college converse with headteachers, executive heads, regional commissioners and local authorities to identify at an early stage, after a few years of teaching, if a person has what it takes to eventually become a leader. Once identified he believes the candidates need to be guided and nurtured towards becoming future leaders, “Once we have enough good teachers and good headteachers and they are evenly distributed across the country, particularly areas that have struggled for years, Britain will have a better education system”.

However this would not stop erase the fact that schools are already struggling to recruit teachers as well as leaders. It is all well and good saying ‘talent spotters’ will be used to identify teachers with leadership potential but in order to promote these teachers to leadership positions, surely we need enough teachers to fill the classrooms first? So what is Nicky Morgan doing in a bid to improve this? Should classroom teachers be getting offered similarly attractive salary packages to attract more talent to the profession? Are salaries really the way to attract talented teachers to the profession or are other factors causing the crisis?  What do you think? Have your say here…

3 thoughts on “Apprentice Headteachers

  1. The average salary for primary teachers (including head teachers and leaders) is around £29k and secondary teachers around £32k. It would therefore be a misleading to promote teaching based in the fact you could earn £100k or more – feasible but very unlikely. Again the focus is on recruitment and the Government seem not to worry about the flip side – retention. Workload and stress are the reason most teachers leave the profession and obviously OFSTED and Wilshaw are part of this problem. It would seem sensible to stem the flow of leavers as well as try to recruit new people.

  2. This is an interesting thought and a key issue that has been identified by teachers working with University graduates for the last 5 years. Fewer trainee teachers coming into the profession along with the droves of experienced teachers leaving due to ill managed ‘performance related pay’ systems, is starving this beloved profession of talented leaders.
    The idea that you can choose teaching as a career and make good progress through the profession for the benefit of the students that you serve has sadly diminished. I would welcome a national scheme to encourage the right teachers to lead our schools for our future generations.

  3. There are many issues here. As a good teacher are you a good leader? The 2 often do not equate and this has to be recognised. Also, we should be encouraging Good and Outstanding teachers to stay in the classroom for the benefit of the students.
    Currently I work in Dubai. The company I work for has a strong PD programme which develops leaders at all levels and there is clear succession planning. Having been through this process to the highest level and been on the SLT for 8 years I applied for a job back in the UK but was told the school had had other applicants with more recent experience of the UK Curriculum so I would not be called to interview. This archaic viewpoint means schools are missing out on bringing wide ranging experiences in to UK schools. They had also asked me how they would interview me and could consider paying for accommodation but not flights. When I suggested a Skype interview they reacted as if this was an impossibility.
    Just because that is the way it has always been done does not mean it is the best way and schools have to open themselves up to change or the system will founder. As a result of the process I went through I decided to stay in the UAE because other than proximity to my children I could not see the advantage of returning to the UK.

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