Diary of a headteacher: Just let me get through May.

17-05-2017

We  are approaching silly season in the education world and this time of year makes me extremely nervous. You know it, right? That perilous month of May, where headteachers are nervously watching time tick agonisingly towards the final resignation deadline of the academic year for teaching staff.

If you have prepared the examination year groups effectively throughout the year then you and your staff should feel confident going into the summer exams.

However, securing your staff and ensuring you have brilliant teachers in front of classes on the first day of the autumn term is the one thing that can keep me awake at night during May.

A late resignation in May can throw an enormous spanner in the works and when this happens there are often slim pickings to choose from.

Therefore, if a school needs to make a teaching appointment in June, July or even August for a September start then your pool of potential applicants is normally formed of NQTs or teachers who are not currently in permanent positions.

However, I have noticed a number of emerging trends in the way in which some teachers are moving between schools. Because of the teacher shortage in certain subjects there is a premium to pay for science, maths, English and MFL teachers. Schools have to accept that they will have to dig deep at times if they want to recruit talented teachers in these subjects and it is not uncommon for headteachers to offer financial incentives to teachers in order to retain them when there might be an offer on the table elsewhere.

I’ve learned, over the past few years, that if you are a good teacher in a shortage subject then more often than not, you can pick your school and name your price (within reason).

I know headteachers that have recruited several teachers in recent years without even bothering to advertise.

One headteacher said to me recently that by not advertising for a particular vacancy and finding a “local solution”, they were able to bank the £1,500 recruitment cost and add this figure to the salary they were prepared to offer the teacher as an incentive to join the school!

At a time where most school leaders are gravely concerned about the state of our education system, I know I have much larger things I should be worrying about. Just let me get through May first!


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