Rise in number of headteachers working in multiple schools

The number of headteachers working in more than one school in Scotland increased by around 64% within seven years, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request obtained by TES Scotland indicates that between 2010 and 2017, 76 headteachers started working in multiple schools, representing a total of 194.

The total number of headteachers working in the country also fell during that period, from 2,228 to 1,989.

Primary school headteachers made up the majority of those working in more than one school, with 390 in 2017 – up by 151 on the figure for 2010.

The figures also indicate that the greatest increases were seen in headteachers who worked at schools considered to be either ‘accessible rural’ or ‘remote rural’.

The statistics outlined in the FOI were documented in a report produced by the Scottish Government’s Working Group on Headteacher Recruitment in September 2018.

The report made recommendations to work to improve the attractiveness of headteacher jobs.

It stated: “Scotland is not alone in encountering issues in respect of headteacher recruitment.

“The apparent reduction in the attractiveness of the role of headteacher is a complex societal issue the solutions to which are, in some cases, beyond the control of the Working Group and the Scottish education system itself.

“However, this report and its recommendations represent a clear attempt by a range of key partners to take shared action to increase the attractiveness of the role and increase the number of teachers willing to undertake a headship role”.

Labour Education spokesman Iain Gray said that budget cuts and difficulties in bringing people into the teaching profession had created the problem.

Mr Gray said: “The growing practice of schools having to share head teachers is just one more consequence of the SNP’s mismanagement of our schools.

“The combination of a recruitment crisis and a £400m cut to school budgets is what lies behind this development. It can only reduce the effectiveness of leadership in our schools.

“While John Swinney sounds off about empowering headteachers, this is the reality on the frontline of his failure to protect schools.”