New headteachers in Scotland need incentives says union

classroom Image copyright PA
Image caption Previous research has suggested many teachers do not want to become heads

Greater financial incentives are needed to overcome difficulties in recruiting headteachers in Scottish schools, a union has claimed.

Greg Dempster of the Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS) believed change was needed.

His plea came as as figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed there were 51 primary school headteacher vacancies in June.

In comparison there were only seven secondary school vacancies.

There are about 2,050 primary schools and 360 secondary schools in Scotland.

The Scottish government said it was increasing its investments in tackling teacher shortages.

The statistics obtained by the Conservatives showed there were more than 850 teaching vacancies across primary and secondary schools.

Of the 51 primary school headteacher vacancies, 16 were in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen - nearly a third of the national total.

Mr Dempster said there was not enough of a financial incentive for people to become head teachers.

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I would say there are three reasons why people go for a particular job: The work itself appeals, the rewards on offer are adequate and they have the skills and abilities to take on the role. We're falling down on the first two of these.

"Head teachers are spending a lot of time in the classroom covering vacant teaching posts and the way that salaries are arrived at doesn't give adequate financial incentive for people to take on the job."


By BBC Scotland data journalist Marc Ellison

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Data sets are explained best when you are able to give context

The practice of data journalism - more than anything - requires not only a double-checking of your arithmetic but, above all, context.

The Scottish Conservatives research on the number of headteacher vacancies in the country's schools is a case in point.

They say: "Many Scottish primary schools are struggling to recruit heads." But, what is meant by "many"?

Well, let's take a closer look.

The Conservatives' figures reveal 51 primary schools in Scotland are without a headteacher. Granted, while this situation is far from ideal, bear in mind there are 2,056 primary schools in Scotland.

So, does 2.5% of Scotland's primary schools count as "many"?

Let's dig a little deeper.

The Conservatives include statistics from the local authorities of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire where the 16 leaderless primary schools account for nearly one third of the national total.

Aberdeen City Council is listed as having the most head teacher vacancies (10) which, when divided by the number of primary schools in the area, equates to 21% of primary schools.

That's a fifth of schools, which is not an insubstantial number.

Read more from Marc....

His comments echoed research commissioned by the Scottish government in 2009 which showed that few teachers actually wanted to become headteachers.

The authors of the research cited problems with the application and interview process, lack of support and "negative perceptions" of the job and called for action to tackle the problems which deter applicants.

Earlier this year Moray Council said some vacant teaching posts posts attracted "no suitable candidates at all".

The Conservatives said that in 2005 the then SNP education secretary Fiona Hyslop "hit out at the Labour-led Scottish government for its failure to recruit more teachers and headteachers".

But it said the pupil to teacher ratio had increased under the SNP government from 13% in 2007 to 13.6% in 2014.

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said the SNP had "continually made bold promises" about education over the past eight years, whether on class sizes, pupil to teacher ratios, teacher numbers and ensuring there were sufficient headteachers.

She said they were "failing on all counts" and said the statistics "lay bare the extent of the problem with recruitment of primary school heads."

The Scottish government's minister for learning, Alasdair Allan, said Scotland would not replicate the English education system and employ non-qualified teachers in a bid to fill the posts that are currently vacant.

Mr Allan told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "I accept that the government needs to work with local authorities to ensure they are recruiting teachers and head teachers. Good school leadership makes a big difference to a school and its attainment.

"What I cannot offer to do is to reduce the standards for those that apply for the teaching profession in Scotland and we wouldn't go down the route of England where non-qualified teachers are in the classroom."

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