Focused support would help aspiring head teachers

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New research by NAHT, the union for school leaders, shows that two thirds (65 per cent) of teachers who aspire to be head teachers would welcome a range of tailored and convenient support to achieve their goals.

NAHT surveyed over a thousand teachers and 69 per cent, said that it would take them five years to feel confident that they could lead their school, with only 8 per cent currently feeling confident. 65 per cent said that they were positive about getting focused support such as mentoring and networking online via their smartphone or tablet.

When asked about making the leap to headship, these aspiring leaders talked about “the challenge of leading others whilst managing my own teaching load” and “the pressure put on heads”.

The survey was conducted across a range of assistant heads, heads of department and other aspiring leaders all of whom are still active classroom teachers but also had wider responsibilities within their school. 88 per cent are responsible for helping to manage and develop colleagues, such as through appraisals and performance management.

Gail Larkin, NAHT President said: “this group of assistant heads, heads of year, special educational needs coordinators and others are the emerging generation of school leaders in both Primary and Secondary. They already lead teams within every school and the profession needs to support these ambitious and committed individuals. It’s clear from our research that they’d welcome more tailored help.

“It was no surprise that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents were women. Teaching remains one of the few professions where women regularly rise to the very top. Sadly, it was also unsurprising to see that childcare issues continue to have a negative impact on their careers. Over half (53 per cent) of all the respondents said that not having enough time is the biggest barrier to making it onto the next stage. It’s clear there’s a need for more support to be offered in a way that suits the lifestyles of this group of school leaders.”

Survey Highlights:

  • 72%     of all those surveyed are women
  • 88%      said they are carrying out appraisals or performance management of colleagues
  • 55%      said they would like a mix of in and out of school training
  • 37%      said that they’d received their main professional development (CPD) at school
  • 55%      said they had received their main CPD outside of their school
  • 65%      said they were positive about part of their development being delivered online
  • 64%      said they would be prepared to contribute up to £500 to the cost of their CPD
  • 53%      said that time is the biggest barrier to career advancement
  • 95%      said they regularly exceeded their contracted ours
  • 32%      said that childcare has a negative impact on their career
  • 48%      said their career has had a negative impact on their relationship
  • 40%      said their career had had a negative impact on the ability to care for their children
  • 55%      said their career had had a negative impact on their health


When asked, only 8% said they were confident that they could “lead their school” within a year. 69% said that it would take them at least 5 years to be confident that they could “lead their school”.

School Leadership Today
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