School leaders are being forced out, warns Angela Rayner

School leaders are being forced out of the profession by rising workloads, falling pay and a lack of support, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner warned today.

Ahead of a speech to headteachers at the NAHT union’s annual conference in Liverpool, she warned that the government “is making it impossible for our schools to keep the leadership they need”.

Her intervention follows the announcement of sweeping reforms to school accountability by the education secretary, Damian Hinds.

Government needs to work with the teaching profession, not against them

Rayner pointed to Labour analysis of school teacher retention statistics released by the government last month, which shows that more than three in ten of those who became leaders between 2011 and 2015 did not stay in school leadership.

“Despite the incredible work they do across the country, headteachers face rising workloads, falling pay, and a government that will not give them the support they need to recruit and retain staff,” Rayner said.

“Government needs to work with the teaching profession, not against them, if we are to give every child the best possible start in life.”

According to the party’s analysis of data in the government’s April data release on school leadership characteristics and trends, 31.7 per cent of those who became school leaders between 2011 and 2015 were not retained in their positions.

Of 173,500 teachers who became headteachers, deputy and assistant heads and middle leaders in that four year period, 54,994 left by 2015, Labour’s analysis shows.

The figures for those “not retained” do not include those who moved to more senior roles, but do include leaders who in that period took on a “lower” role or moved to a different phase.

James Bowen, head of the NAHT Edge section, which represents middle leaders in the union, served as both a deputy head and headteacher between 2011 and 2015. He said the period was a time of significant upheaval for schools, “where the accountability pressures increased rapidly”.

“We had the change from satisfactory to requires improvement, the raising of the floor standard bar and, towards the end of that period, the introduction of coasting standards.

“I don’t think that’s any coincidence, and demonstrates why yesterday’s announcement on accountability from the secretary of state was so important for school leaders.”

“The next Labour government will support our schools by giving them the resources they need, increasing per pupil funding in real terms and providing ring-fenced funding to end the pay cap and give our teachers the pay rise they deserve,” Rayner said today.

Her speech, on the second day of the NAHT’s annual conference, follows an appearance by Hinds, her opposite number, on Friday.

During his speech, the education secretary pledged to listen to” heads, teachers, support staff and unions” during his government’s development of a retention and recruitment strategy in the coming months.

“We will take an unflinching look at the things that discourage people from coming into teaching or make them consider leaving,” Hinds said yesterday.

“We will also look at how we support teachers to get better at what they do and hone their expertise as well as career progression, whether they want to get into leadership as you have, or stay and develop in the classroom.”

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