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Head Teachers

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary school head teachers resigned from their posts within 12 months of an Ofsted inspection in each of the last five years.; (140737)

(2) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary school head teachers in England and Wales left their posts prior to retirement age in each of the last five years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with educational representatives on the reasons for recent trends in applications for headships of primary and secondary schools. (140736)

[holding answer 6 June 2007]: The Department does not collect data about the number of applications for headships. However, according to research undertaken by Howson1, while there has been a decline in the number of applications for headships in primary schools between 2004-05 and 2005-06, there has been an increase in the number of applications in secondary schools. In addition, the Department’s official statistics show that since 1997, head teacher vacancies have remained low and fairly stable. Provisional figures for 2007 show a fall in the head teacher vacancy rate from 0.8 per cent. in January 2006 to 0.6 per cent. in January 2007. However, we know that some types of schools such as church schools, schools in London and some small schools in rural areas find it harder to recruit senior staff than others and also that more heads are reaching retirement age.

Our focus is therefore on ensuring that we have sufficient numbers of high quality school leaders now and coming through the system for the future. The Secretary of State asked the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) for advice on succession planning and on the back of this announce an additional £10 million to support their work in this area. In preparing the advice, the NCSL have consulted widely with schools, school leaders, local authorities, dioceses, professional associations, and governor bodies. This included nine regional succession planning conferences, attended by over 500 school leaders and an ongoing Succession Planning Advisory Group with senior education representatives which meets regularly. The Department also commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent study into school leadership, which reported in January.

1 The State of the Labour Market for Senior Staff in Schools in England and Wales 11th and 12th Annual Reports by Professor Howson of Education Data Surveys.