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Fewer women headteachers appointed.

Byline: By Alison Kershaw, Press Association

Women and ethnic minorities are still under represented at headteacher level, a new report has found.

In the past year, 32 per cent of headteachers appointed in secondary schools were women, down from over 40 per cent the year before, according to the 14th annual teacher recruitment survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) looks at the state of the labour market for senior staff in schools in England and Wales.

It found that of the 103 secondary schools who gave the gender of their new headteacher, 71 had appointed a man, and 32 had appointed a woman, which the survey noted was "an issue for concern".

At primary school level, 75 per cent of appointments in the past year were women.

But the survey added: "With women accounting for a greater percentage of the teaching force in primary schools, this suggests that they are still under-represented in appointments to headship."

Dr John Dunford, ASCL general secretary, said it was "impossible" to tell if this year's results were the start of a downward trend in women gaining headships.

He said: "The NCSL's (National College for School Leadership) work on encouraging women into headship has been valuable for drawing attention to the issue at national and regional level. The government must urgently address those issues, like excessive workload, that may be discouraging highly qualified women, in particular, from taking on headships."

A similar situation was seen for ethnic minorities. In secondary schools, the survey found that just one head had been appointed in the past year whose ethnicity was not described as "white".

It said: "This brings to just 13 the number of ethnic minority heads we have tracked in the past eight years since we first started asking this question.

As almost all schools now provide this information, we view the figure with some concern."

Of the 561 primary schools that gave details of their new head teacher's ethnicity, 553 classified them as "white".

The survey authors noted: "This is not just disappointing, but alarming. Research is under way at Manchester University to help understand more about this problem, but in a multi-cultural society, where education has an important part to play in developing society, these figures, if they reflect the true position, are frankly unacceptable. It is to be hoped that the position is better in the schools that did not return forms to us.

"Should it be no different, then urgent action must be taken by policy makers to address the seriousness of this issue across the primary school sector."

The survey said that whether the low numbers of ethnic minorities taking up head ships "is because of a lack of applicants or discrimination during the application process, this study cannot tell".

The report also raises concerns that faith schools could be struggling to appoint head teachers, and says more work is needed to ensure there are enough candidates available to make an appointment.

It found that the percentage of re-advertisements for positions was much higher in faith schools than other schools.

The survey, which contains details of 2,236 leadership posts advertised by maintained schools and Academies between September last year and the end of May, found that a third (32 per cent) of primary and one in five (21 per cent) of secondary head teacher posts remained unfilled following an advert.

Last week Mick Brookes, general secretary of the NAHT, called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle the shortage.

Mr Brookes is said to have written to the Training and Development Agency for Schools about the issue.

The government has insisted the level of headteacher vacancies is much lower.

Chris Kirk, Director of Succession Planning at NCSL, which is responsible for identifying and bringing on the next generation of headteachers said: "It's vital that every school finds the right head teacher and NCSL is working with local education partners across the country to ensure that this happens."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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