Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Better pay and conditions

At her inaugural press conference in September, SHA president Sue Kirkham raised concerns with the media about leadership sustainability in schools.

Talking to journalists from the TES, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and Daily Mail, she pointed in particular to two alarming trends. The first is heads losing their jobs after schools fall into special measures or do not make quick enough progress out.

Last year SHA field officers handled at least 24 cases of heads being forced out. A significant number were in second headships and were frequently in post less than two years - in one case less than two terms. Many of the heads are in challenging schools.

Sue warned that the situation may get worse under the new Ofsted inspection, which places greater emphasis on management than on classroom performance. It's not just heads who will be affected; deputies and whole leadership teams could find themselves at the sharp end.

She called for improved contracts and longer notice periods for heads which make termination more expensive and less attractive. This evidence has already been submitted to the STRB and SHA Council's funding committee will take this on as part of its broader work on pay and conditions.

The second trend is the shrinking number of deputy heads. According to the Teachers' Workload Survey, the number of deputy heads dropped from 6,100 in 2003 to 5,428 in 2004 - a decrease of 672 in one year (or 11 per cent).

However, in the same period, the average number of members on secondary school leadership teams has increased from five to six. Because the number of assistant heads has increased by a much smaller number than deputies (up 266 over the year to 9,516) the majority of these places must be filled by bursars and senior administrative staff.

In many cases, schools are implementing workforce reform and moving non-teaching tasks from deputy heads to senior administrative staff. However in some schools, the trend results from the need to make financial savings.

Regardless of the reason, this will put still more pressure on headship recruitment.

Sue has themed her presidential year around 'sustainable leadership' and will be addressing issues of workload, pay and conditions of service over the coming months.

'Blue book' now available for download

The latest School Teachers' Pay and Conditions document (better known as the 'blue book') is now available to download from the 'online publications' section of Teachernet. It lists all the changes coming into effect as a result of the workforce agreement, including TLRs and PPA time. This helpful book is no longer sent directly to schools. However, it is an essential document for every school leader to keep to hand.

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