Leadership retention plea: 'Better headteachers tend to be experienced headteachers'

Evidence showing the impact effective headteachers have on GCSE outcomes and staff turnover has highlighted the importance of retaining experienced school leaders and shoring up leadership supply
Image: Adobe Stock

A study investigating the influence of headteachers on their schools has found that replacing “ineffective” secondary headteachers with effective ones can improve pupil performance by two GCSE grades and reduce staff turnover and absenteeism (Zuccollo et al, 2023).

At primary level, effective headteachers can achieve the equivalent of an additional three months of learning for pupils and also have a positive impact on staff turnover.

However, the study warns that experience in the job is a key factor in becoming an effective leader, throwing into sharp focus on-going concerns about leadership retention and supply.

A key recommendation in the study is that school governors and Ofsted inspectors must acknowledge “that it may take years to realise the full improvement in results from switching headteachers and support new headteachers accordingly”.

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