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Latest News - Strong Need For Interim Primary School Leaders

Wednesday Feb 22

Strong need for Interim Primary School Leaders

The need for interim primary school leaders with excellent track records, particularly in the primary sector, continues to be an issue for governing bodies up and down the country. The age demographic of headteachers (the so-called baby-boomers) is such that many continue to reach retirement age without an adequate supply of deputy headteachers willing to take up headships. This could in some part be explained by the increased pressure on headteachers who are now more than ever in the public eye. What with a revised Ofsted framework and the threat from the DfE of forcing underperforming schools into academies, you really need to be thick-skinned to take on this added responsibility. In many cases, a deputy role seems like a safe option and in many cases the pay differential isnt that great anyway. The current economic climate means that ambitious headteachers of smaller schools along with aspirant deputy headteachers are less likely to move to take up their desired role which again limits the pool of candidates available to a school.
This is despite the attempts by many local authorities to prioritise succession planning over the last few years. When a headteacher does retire, an interim solution can often be the best means of plugging a gap while the task of sourcing a permanent replacement can usually take 2 or more attempts! Good interim headteachers can, in many cases, lay down solid foundations for a newly appointed headteacher to take up the reins. This can be a much better option than appointing in haste and getting the wrong leader on board or wasting time and money going to advert when there is little chance of recruiting in the short term.
With local authorities (school improvement teams) providing, in many cases, only statutory services, there is less capability from within to source interim leaders, as the number of advisors available who could have stepped in previously has been drastically reduced. This has been compounded by the ending of National Strategies. Primary schools in particular find themselves out on a limb more than ever before. The warm corporate blanket of the LA is in many cases no longer there.
 When a school falls into an Ofsted category and where the headteacher has moved on, governing bodies need to be able to either gain support from collaborations with successful schools via an executive arrangement or find interim support from independent private providers. Many local authorities are happy to link up with trusted providers to enable them to signpost these firms to governing bodies when the need arises. Schools and groups of schools will become more reliant on each other and the private sector providers as local authorities become further removed in terms of how they can provide support. Interim headteachers are flexible in terms of location and can usually take up posts at very short notice. They provide an independent perspective on often difficult situations, bringing with them an analytical approach to getting to the heart of the issues and ensuring some quick wins while not taking their eye off the expected longer term outcomes.
More and more successful primary headteachers, particularly those that have become headteachers quite early in their careers and have a number of successful headships under their belts, are looking for new challenges. Interim headships and executive headships, largely in turn-around situations, provide attractive options. The ranks of interim headteachers has also been swelled by those taking early retirement who in many cases have thought it best to leave their substantive posts and take their pensions while the going was good. The market continues to look buoyant for interim primary headteachers..
Paul Horgan
Paul Horgan is a Director with the Veredus Interim Management practice that focuses on schools, academies and FE colleges. He has been recruiting senior education leaders since 2005 and has been recruiting in the education sector for over 15 years. Paul continues to support schools and governing bodies across all sectors of education. However, the primary sector continues to be the busiest sector for interim leaders.

Source: www.veredus.co.uk - 20 February 2012

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