Head teacher’s union open new wing for aspiring leaders

A new branch of the head teachers’ union aimed at senior managers with leadership ambitions is due to launch today after only eight per cent of teachers said they would feel confident leading their school.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is launching NAHT Edge, aimed specifically at supporting teachers in senior positions who are interested in moving into leadership.

The move follows an NAHT email survey of 1,038 teachers which found that almost two thirds (65 per cent) said they would welcome focused support such as mentoring and or online networking, while 69 per cent said they would need five years of support to feel ready to become a head teacher.

The chief executive of NAHT, Louis Coiffait, told Schools Week the organisation would be “very much a teaching union” but would have “a significant focus on continuing professional development [CPD]”.

He added that much of the support would be delivered online.

“We will, of course, be there in person as and when people need us, using the NAHT’s existing regional branches, but it will also be something that people can access online, with lots of user-friendly information available 24/7, and a search function that actually works.”

Membership of the new union would cost around £13.50 a month, he said.

Mr Coiffait also said assistant heads who are already NAHT members would be able to choose between the two unions, and any NAHT Edge member who became a head teacher would automatically be transferred to the NAHT.

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.”

More than half of the respondents (53 per cent) said time was the biggest barrier to career advancement and 64 per cent said they would be willing to contribute up to £500 to the cost of their own CPD.

Ms Larkin added: “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.”

Mr Coiffait said: “The recruitment of school leaders is a real challenge facing the profession right now.

“There’s a talented group of individuals in schools who are ready for more responsibility if they can get the right support but the government is stepping back from leadership development.

He added: “They are the next generation of head teachers.

“Our research shows that this group of people are ambitious for themselves, motivated to work hard in the classroom and committed to making the schools they work in places where children get the best possible start in life.”