Almost a third of headteachers now leave within three years, official data shows

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Telegraph

Headteachers are leaving the profession in droves, as official figures show that almost a third of school leaders are now leaving within three years of taking up the post, The Telegraph reports.

Of the secondary school headteachers aged under 50 who were appointed in 2013, 31% had left by 2016. One in five primary school headteachers quit their posts over the same time period, data from the Department for Education (DfE) reveals.

The number of school leaders departing within three years has increased since 2011 when the DfE report’s analysis of retention began.

On Saturday, delegates at the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) annual conference in Liverpool passed a motion which noted their “alarm” at the “huge amount of public money” that is wasted through training up teachers who leave the profession just a few years after starting.

This week Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced that long-serving teachers will be offered paid one-year sabbaticals.

The career breaks are aimed at rewarding dedicated teachers for their hard work, and funding an activity that would aid their professional development.

The move comes after the public accounts committee warned of a “growing sense of crisis” in teacher retention.

A study by the National Foundation for Educational Research published last year found that lower retention rates were common among schools with poor Ofsted ratings or schools that were part of large multi-academy trusts (MATs).

Headteachers who had been in post for two or more years were most likely to leave following an unfavourable inspection.

The vast array of lucrative career options available to former heads such as education consultants or chief executives of academy chains has also contributed to the rise, experts have said.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, blamed the Government for “making it impossible for our schools to keep the leadership they need”.

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She said: “Despite the incredible work they do across the country, headteachers face rising workloads and falling pay.”

James Bowen of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), the biggest union for primary school leaders, said: “When the system is causing this many leaders to walk away, something needs to change.

“Changes to how schools are held to account over the last decade have seen ever-increasing pressure placed on school leaders.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said that teaching continues to be an “attractive career”, adding: “We recognise, however that recruitment and retention can be difficult so will continue to invest in the sector to help attract the best and brightest into teaching.”

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