School leaders’ offer “on the verge of collapse”, school leaders warn in new NAHT report – FE News


Today (Wednesday 8 December), the school leaders union NAHT launches its latest report on the remuneration, workload and well-being of school leaders, during an online “town hall” event for its members tonight.

The report, based on a survey of more than 2,000 respondents during the fall term, shows that fewer school leaders aspire to leadership than ever before. More than half (53%) of principals who are not currently principals indicated that they do not aspire to principal (around a third since 2016, up from 40%).

Leadership aspirations decline with experience – the more experience an educator has, the less likely he is to aspire to be a director. Less than a third (29%) of middle leaders aspired to a higher position in the future, with 36% indicating that higher leadership is not their goal. More than half (53%) of assistant and assistant directors did not aspire to leadership.

Concerns about personal well-being were recorded as the biggest barrier to school leadership, with almost nine in ten vice-principals and vice-principals (87%) and middle managers (86%) identifying this as a disincentive for management or a leadership role.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT General Secretary, said:

“The supply of school leadership is on the verge of collapse. Fewer teachers aspire to be school leaders, and leadership aspirations have collapsed.

“Experienced teachers and leaders with decades of classroom and managerial experience do not view leadership as an attractive, viable and sustainable career choice. Awareness of the spiraling mental health and well-being crisis among leaders and the inability to cope with declining wages in real terms provided little financial incentive for promotion.

“Future leadership supply indicators are all blinking red. Now is the time for a complete reset – not only in terms of the relationship between government and school leaders, but also in terms of the nature of the school leadership experience itself. “

The report also reveals a sharp increase in dissatisfaction with school leadership as a career choice. The number of school leaders who would recommend school leadership fell by more than a third (36%) between 2020 and 2021, from 47% to 30% in a single year. Almost half (47%) of school leaders said they would not recommend school leadership as a career goal.

An overwhelming majority of school leaders (93%) said the government had failed to support their well-being during the covid-19 pandemic. Almost nine in ten assistant and assistant deputy heads (89%) and more than eight in ten middle managers (84%) were of the same opinion.

When asked to sum up their experience as a leader over the past year in one word, the most common responses were “stressful,” “difficult” and “exhausting,” followed closely by “relentless. “Overwhelming”, “demoralizing”, and “undervalued”.

Almost nine in ten respondents (88%) said their role had an impact on the quality or quantity of their sleep. 83% reported increased worry, fear or stress about their job. Three-quarters of leaders (75%) said their role negatively impacted their mental health. And nearly six in ten leaders (59%) said their role negatively impacted their physical health.

When asked what would improve the attractiveness of school leadership, nearly nine in ten principals (86%) responded “greater recognition of school principals as professionals”. More than half (58%) said that greater professional autonomy, greater independence and greater freedom of action would make school leadership more attractive. Over two-thirds (70%) of leaders told us that reducing the leadership workload would make school leadership roles more attractive.

Mr. Whiteman continued:

“The government’s confused and chaotic handling of the Covid response in schools has further exacerbated the existing crisis in school leadership. Before the pandemic struck, it was clear that the recruitment and retention of leaders was at a critical point due to unsustainable workload and hours of work, and a system of inspection and monitoring. faulty liability. The government’s actions over the past two years have compounded an already dire situation and left many leaders feeling mistreated, suspicious and unsupported. Many are considering retiring or leaving the profession sooner.

“To avoid this, it is necessary to restore the agency and the independence of the leaders, to enhance their professional experience, to propose equitable accountability measures, to remove the workload and to restore and improve the salaries of the leaders. leaders who have suffered a decade of losses in real terms.

“Leaders don’t need more system changes or government intervention, they just need the right resources, enough autonomy and the trust they are given to get the job done. they like. Running a school is amazing and rewarding work, but one that comes with a huge responsibility. A clear message is that school leadership should be more akin to other professional careers – such as medicine, architecture and law – with principals being offered the same level of confidence and trust. autonomy than other professions.

NAHT Report ‘Solving the Leadership Crisis: Making School Leadership a Sustainable Career ” makes 5 recommendations to the government to ensure a sufficient number of leaders for the future, including restoring confidence by empowering school leaders to make the decisions that best meet the needs of their learners, and reforming the policies of inspection and accountability to eliminate the factors of unnecessary workload, fear and stress.

He also urges the government to strive to restore real executive pay and close the executive pay gap by giving the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) the proper mandate to make recommendations for a professional compensation structure. who would support teachers and leaders throughout their careers. .

More than eight in ten executives (83%) said the pay freeze had negatively impacted their morale. More than four in ten (44%) identified a clearer salary progression for school leaders as a measure that would improve the attractiveness of school leadership as a career choice.

Mr. Whiteman concluded:

“These findings refute the complacent approach of the Education Ministry which has repeatedly coerced the STB and ignored its repeated requests to review the executive compensation structure. We urgently need the government to take and act on the STB’s warnings seriously, to support the retention of experienced teachers and leaders, and to help resolve the leadership supply crisis.

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