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School leaders call for urgent pay rise as report shows ‘unprecedented’ numbers leaving the profession

Today, Friday 27th Jan, school leaders’ union NAHT, submits evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) on pay.

Submitted alongside the evidence is a new report, entitled Gone for Good, which reveals the number of school leaders leaving the profession.

According to the government’s own figures, about a third (31%) of senior school leaders leave their post within 5 years of appointment.

We now reveal that more than half (53%) of those who leave go on to leave the state-funded school system entirely.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This report shows the very real consequences of the government’s driving down of school leaders’ pay over the last decade. The profession is haemorrhaging experienced and talented teachers and leaders who we desperately need, and we are losing them for good.”

NAHT has previously revealed that the number of school leaders leaving their post within 5 years has risen sharply since 2011. More than 1 in 4 primary school leaders and more than 1 in 3 secondary school leaders leave within five years of appointment.

And only a quarter (24%) of deputy and assistant heads aspire to headship.

Mr Whiteman continued: “These are leaders who are not at the end of their careers, who previously would have expected to continue leading their schools for decades more. Instead, they are being forced out, and are finding jobs that pay and treat them better.

“Even if we could recruit enough new teachers to fill these gaps, that still wouldn’t replace the knowledge and experience these people have built up. And yet again the government has failed, recruiting less than two-thirds (59%) of the secondary trainees that it needs, while primary is a worrying 7% short.

“Worse still, those leaders who do remain are looking at the job of headship and are concluding that the massive workload, stress and high stakes nature of the role just isn’t worth the eroded pay. The government is refusing to face the very worrying question of where the head teachers of the future will come from.”

NAHT has also updated its analysis of inflation and pay levels for school leaders, showing that school leaders’ salaries have lost about a fifth (19%) of their value in real terms since 2010.

Mr Whiteman concluded: “The STRB process has failed the education profession. Under their watch, school leaders have suffered a significant pay erosion that has led us to this damaging recruitment and retention crisis. The repeated and carefully evidenced warnings we make each year have been utterly ignored.

“This is the last chance for the STRB to listen to the evidence, assert its independence, regain the confidence of the profession, and recommend a pay deal that will begin to solve the crisis and ensure a stable supply of great teachers and school leaders for the future.”

Notes to editors

NAHT’s Gone for Good report can be read in full here: NAHT-Retention-rate-report-FINAL.pdf

It builds on previously released data obtained by NAHT through a Freedom of Information request, the details of which can be read here: New data reveals sharp increase in number of school leaders leaving the profession within 5 years (naht.org.uk)

NAHT had previously predicted that school leaders’ salaries would be worth 24% less by the end of 2022 using the Bank of England’s estimate of 13.3% annual inflation. This has now been revised using the final CPI inflation figures for the end of December.

NAHT’s full submission to the STRB can be read here:

https://www.naht.org.uk/Portals/0/PDF's/Policy/NAHT response to STRB 33rd remit FINAL.pdf?ver=2023-01-26-140153-847 

First published 27 January 2023
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