Non-teachers should be hired to plug school leader shortage, says report

Non-teachers should be hired to plug school leader shortage, says report

Schools should hire business people with no classroom experience for non-teaching executive roles to plug an expected shortage of up to 19,000 school leaders in England by 2022, says a new report.

School Leadership Challenge: 2022, published today by the Future Leaders Trust, Teaching Leaders and Teach First, warns of growing school leadership recruitment problems – with schools in disadvantaged areas hit hardest.

Based on more than 70 interviews with headteachers and academy trust chief executives, as well as a “supply projection” based on the latest pupil and workforce data, it predicts a future shortage of between 14,000 to 19,000 leaders sparked by increasing pupil numbers, retirements, and school leaders leaving the profession early.

The report found an extra 5,000 leaders would be needed by 2022 because of growing pupil numbers, but predicted more than half of current leaders would leave in the next six years.

It recommended that the pool of candidates be expanded to people outside the profession.

James Toop, chief executive designate of the merging Teaching Leaders and The Future Leaders Trust, said private sector candidates would have the “right skills and experience” to fulfil roles such as finance managers and multi-academy trust chief executives.

Toby Young (pictured), new boss of the New Schools Network, has also renewed his call for businesspeople with no teaching experience to be appointed as school leaders.

Earlier in the year, he told Schools Week that theatre directors and NHS managers would be a particularly fertile source.

Rising chief executive salaries of up to £400,000 a year could also entice leaders from other sectors

Rising chief executive salaries of up to £400,000 a year could also entice leaders from other sectors, the report said.

But Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that schools should be “mindful” of their salary limits and should only pay what was expected in education, not the corporate sector.

Toop said most schools were not able to match salaries in the corporate sector, but claimed people would not move into schools to “make money”.

“They want to make a difference, it is the moral purpose of helping young people that makes them want to join.”

The report found schools serving the most disadvantaged children, which make up 40 per cent of all schools in England, would need “10,000 more school leaders by 2022”.

But a Department for Education spokesperson said the government did not “recognise” the report’s figures.

“The latest school workforce data shows that there are 68,800 full-time equivalent leaders in state schools in England. Furthermore, since 2010 the proportion of schools reporting a headteacher vacancy has decreased and the number of school leaders over the age of 50 has decreased significantly.”

She added that the department did, however, recognise that “we need to work with the profession to ensure we can develop even more great school leaders”.