Reviewing headteacher pay is key to encouraging more applicants for top posts, according to a new report.
The headteacher recruitment working group was set up to help boost the number of headteachers across Scotland.
In a new report, the group – comprising government, professional groups and unions – said: “The working group retains the belief that reviewing headteacher pay should be a key element of an overarching strategy to increase the number of applicants for posts.”
The report adds the drop in the number of promoted posts, down more than 1,500 between 2010 and 2017, through the flattening of career structures is hitting the number of teachers with “well-developed leadership skills and experience who feel confident in considering headship, and on the desirability of the headship role given the lack of interim steps”.
Scotland needs more headteachers to inspire pupils and teachers to reach their full potentialEducation Secretary John Swinney
Some recent progress was noted, including a slight increase in promoted posts – up 208 to 12,602 between 2016 and 2017 – and a marginal drop in the average age of head teachers to 49.
However, the use of shared headship has increased and the number of teachers who have a qualification for headship but are not working as headteachers is 412.
The group set out a series of recommendations to encourage more teachers to apply for headship, including having local authorities set numbers of potential candidates for the fully-funded Into Headship qualification.
Other recommendations include having the Scottish Government and Education Scotland support councils with local and regional succession planning and having a section on health and wellbeing in leadership development programmes to deal with stress and workload.
Creating a single fast-track leadership scheme to boost head teacher numbers was not recommended as the group found it would not “best meet the needs of the teaching profession in Scotland”.
Speaking at the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) conference in Glasgow, Education Secretary John Swinney said: “There is absolutely no shortage of talent or ability among the teaching workforce in Scotland, but there is a need to identify, encourage and support those who are interested in rising to the challenge of the headteacher role.
“While the number of teachers in promoted posts increased last year and average age of head teachers is reducing, Scotland needs more headteachers to inspire pupils and teachers to reach their full potential.
“A range of partners have now agreed actions to collectively promote headship as a rewarding and attractive career and better help those teachers who are willing take on a leadership role.”
He said many recommendations aim to improve support for teachers and highlighted the government’s first recruitment campaign for headteachers which launched in September.
AHDS General Secretary Greg Dempster said: “Headteacher recruitment has been a big issue for some time.
“The Headteacher Working Group report does not shy away from the challenges that need to be addressed. AHDS very much welcomes the report and the actions it sets out.”
Council umbrella body Cosla and the General Teaching Council for Scotland also back the recommendations.
Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said it was “bewildering” 412 teachers are qualified for headship but are not in post and accused the SNP of being “all talk” on the issue of support.
His Conservative counterpart Liz Smith said called for full recognition from the SNP about the root of the problem, while Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott said: “No wonder the first national strike over pay in a generation is on the cards.”