Executive Headteachers: what’s in a name?

The government does not know how many executive headteachers are actually working in academies, a new report has claimed, raising concerns over how it will meet future demand for up to 6,000 more senior leaders.

Executive Headteachers: what’s in a name? found “limitations” with how the government records executive heads in the school workforce census. These include that the role is sometimes considered outside the scope of the school workforce census, different titles (such as executive director) and those in temporary or interim positions not captured in the data.

While statistics show they currently number 630, the report says the true figure may be higher.

The report, by three leading education charities, also found a lack of consistency over the roles of executive heads, which it said presented a challenge to “understanding the most senior tiers of school management and leadership”.

It was published today by The Future Leaders Trust, National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and National Governors’ Association (NGA) and comes as the government launches a drive to recruit more school leaders to head the expected growth in multi-academy trusts.

Carole Willis, chief executive of NFER, said the lack of information was “concerning given their [exec heads] important and growing role” in the school system.

She urged the government to begin collecting relevant data under the school workforce figures.

Researchers estimate there may be demand for another 3,200 to 6,700 executive heads by 2022, if current growth levels continue.

The report also found variations in pay. For instance, one executive head was paid £74,710 for looking after 88 pupils, while another was paid £63,320 for overseeing 435 pupils.

Emma Knights, pictured, chief executive of the NGA, said: “Executive headships are well-paid posts and we must not risk building into staffing structures duplication or other inefficiencies when schools are so short of funds.”

The report called for the Department for Education (DfE) to set up a profession-led definition of executive headship to include associated skills, competencies, organisational structures and indicative remuneration, with a range of operating models.

A DfE spokesperson said it was investing millions on new leadership development programmes and reforming the national professional qualifications framework to reflect new school roles.

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