School leaders are ‘up for the challenge’

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A majority of school leaders would seek out work in a “requires improvement” school, but would demand rewards that recognise the risks involved.

A study by the National Association of Head Teachers involving 2,653 school leaders found that while as many as eight in 10 would seek out the most challenging schools in which to work, 68 per cent of them believe that the risks involved are now “so dangerously high” that they would demand “significant incentives”.

The union believes that the government must do more to encourage aspiring leaders to take on demanding roles.

It said this week that streamlining the accountability system to focus on “a few clear, stable goals” and reducing the “constant stream” of new initiatives would help.

Elsewhere, the study found that headteachers are working an average of 60 hours a week, with 79 per cent of the respondents reporting that their workload is increasing.

The school leaders also said that they take an average of just 4.8 weeks in holiday each year.

General secretary of the NAHT Russell Hobby said: “Great leaders seek out challenge because they know that is where they can do the most good, but they won’t jump through hoops just to win a politician re-election. It is time to rebuild the trust between government and the profession, a trust that has been shaken in recent years. Balanced, intelligent accountability is the key, alongside a steady programme of reform rather than snap announcements. 

“Our survey shows that school leaders relish a challenge but are paying a high price for their ideals. If we are to encourage more people to take on these vital roles both sides need to do more. The current generation of heads needs to focus more on the opportunities and the government needs to make these jobs far more sustainable.”


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