Lack of candidates for headteacher posts in Fife

Strathallan Primary has recently had a new headteacher appointed
Strathallan Primary has recently had a new headteacher appointed

Concerns have been raised over the lack of candidates applying for vacant headteacher posts in Fife schools.

Councillor Peter Grant, leader of the SNP group, highlighted the limited numbers coming forward following a series of appointments to senior positions.

At Fife Council’s executive committee meeting this week, it was reported that the recruitment of senior teachers was one of the issues being addressed as part of an overall “modernisation and re-design” of leadership of learning in Fife.

Cllr Grant’s concern over the lack of candidates followed appointments to posts including those of Heather Logan, who has been promoted from acting headteacher to headteacher at Strathallan Primary, and Ewan Trousdale, headteacher at Rimbleton Primary in Glenrothes, who has been appointed headteacher of Kirkcaldy West Primary.

Cllr Grant said: “Half of the eight appointments made only had one candidate.

“The job of headteacher is becoming so stressful, a lot of teachers simply don’t want to take it on now.

“My concern is that if we have a number of appointments at the same time we might not be able to fill them.”

Donna Manson, head of education (west), stressed in her report that “every appointment is a great one” was the expectation within all Fife schools.

She said that if not enough high quality applications were received, the post was re-advertised, sometimes several times, until a suitable candidate could be appointed,

The Council acknowledged there were challenges, particularly in the primary school sector, in the recruitment of headteachers.

Applications for posts in areas of significant deprivation, and smaller schools, mainly in rural areas, generally received fewer applications.

Teachers appointed as heads of smaller schools generally moved on to larger schools after a short time, resulting in concerns about the lack of continuity in leadership.

One way the Council has been making headteacher posts of smaller schools more attractive has been by creating joint headships.

There are currently five joint headships in Fife.

Shelagh McLean, from the education service, said: “We have taken steps where possible to increase the number of joint headships.

“We do find they are successful in terms of outcomes for the children, but also in terms of stability for these schools.”