How to inspire teachers to take up ‘hard-to-fill’ leadership roles

PUBLISHED: 08:40 07 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:40 07 May 2018

Headteacher Jonathan Rice. Picture: Ian Burt

Headteacher Jonathan Rice. Picture: Ian Burt

Collaboration between schools is key to ensure talented teachers move into hard-to-fill top leadership spots, the chairman of a primary school association says.

Jonathan Rice, headteacher at Caister Junior School, has been in the post of chairman of Educate Norfolk Primary, which represents school leaders around the county, for just a few weeks.

And on his list of important issues is recruitment and retention - a stubborn issue in many parts of the region.

There have been drives in the past to boost the number of teachers coming to work in Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as inspiring more teachers into leadership positions.

“I’m convinced that a lot of the issues we have in Norfolk, particularly recruitment and retention, can be resolved by working collaboratively,” he said. “There is a generation of people in their 30s and 40s who have been deputy heads for a while.

“Many would make great headteachers and we need to make it more feasible and more manageable for them - but they need to know about the opportunities.”

In 2015, Educate Norfolk was originally launched as a drive to draw more teachers to the region. Now, two years on, and having evolved into a body representing heads, Mr Rice said he hopes to revive its original purpose.

But with a fragmented school system – including multi-academy trusts and school federations – it can be difficult to work closely.

“Most trusts don’t want to work separately,” he said. “I think Educate Norfolk can provide the links that schools need.”

Another of the body’s main aims is to support headteachers’ wellbeing.

“Being a headteacher can be an isolating job sometimes,” he said. “It’s a fantastic job, but it can be quite lonely, particularly in small schools. Having that network is really important.”

And with the local authority, government, Ofsted and Regional Schools Commissioner, it can sometimes be information overload for school leaders.

Mr Rice said they hoped to act as something of guide for heads, keeping them up to date with key information. He said he was keen to talk to heads, visit schools and listen to concerns.


Educate Norfolk Primary

The group’s focus is varied, and will include the local impact of ongoing national issues.

Priorities include:

Inclusion and behaviour The steep number of permanent exclusions in Norfolk is an ongoing concern. The group recently held a conference to look at issues around inclusion, and how expulsions can be brought down.

Funding crisis. The continual pressure on schools’ budgets will continue, and in some cases worsen, over the next few years. Educate Norfolk has worked with other counties to campaign for better funding and highlight the issues.

New headteacher inductions, to help those new to the county settle into life in Norfolk.

Work on overseas partnerships – heads involved in Educate Norfolk took part in a trip to Ghana, and hope to explore similar links in the future.

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