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Recruitment and retention

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School leaders are driven by an ambition to provide opportunities for young people to reach their full potential. To fulfil that ambition, teaching must attract and retain a high-quality, well-trained and properly rewarded workforce. 

Through our work with members, NAHT is documenting and communicating the unfolding recruitment and retention crisis taking place in our schools to policymakers at the highest levels. 

NAHT is campaigning to:

Ensure all schools can recruit and retain excellent teachers and leaders

  • Lobby for change and reform of key macro issues affecting recruitment and retention: pay, accountability, funding and workload and identify key actions to be taken to improve these
  • Press for the development of a range of flexible leadership and non-leadership pathways to support recruitment and retention, including new opportunities that will retain the experience and expertise of mid to late career leaders
  • Build on the opportunities offered by the Early Career Framework to press for similar support for new heads, deputies and assistants, and school business leaders
  • Maintain a watching brief on the impact of Brexit on teacher supply
  • Lobby the DfE for practical measures to address the workload of school leaders, including protection of strategic leadership time
  • Campaign for a staged real term, restorative pay award for teachers and school leaders
  • Develop a position on the role of CEOs and other posts outside the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) including a position on which roles should have a requirement for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • Lobby for a review of the pay system, including the STPCD
  • Press government to maintain and enhance the teacher's pension scheme and/or Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)
  • Support work to ensure the profession represents a diverse workforce, including those with protected characteristics
  • Support effective partnerships between school leaders and governors with clarity of roles and responsibilities across different school structures.

Create a safe working environment for school leaders and their staff

  • Lobby the DfE to take concrete steps to tackle verbal and physical abuse and aggression against school staff, including harassment online and through social media.  

Ensure professional recognition of school business leaders (SBLs)

  • Lobby the DfE for SBLs to be included within a new national framework of terms and conditions for school staff
  • Promote the professional standards framework for all SBLs
  • Raise the profile and understanding of the SBL role across the school sector, including with governors.  


Crisis Point: NAHT’s annual survey finds the mental health toll on school leaders is fuelling the supply crisis

Findings from NAHT's annual all-member in England survey demonstrates that the impact of workload, inspection and accountability on personal well-being is a key driver of leadership attrition, and also acts as a powerful deterrent to those aspiring to headship.

This year, almost one in two (49%) school leaders in England said they identified that they had a need for professional mental health or well-being support. Over a third (38%) had accessed support, while 7% did not know how to secure it and 5% found access to be unavailable. Leaders said Ofsted pressures were the factor that had the greatest impact on their mental health over the last year.

The Crisis Point report records rising discontent: 57% of school leaders would not recommend leadership as a career choice and 61% said their work satisfaction had declined over the last twelve months. Approaching two-thirds (61%) of assistant and deputy heads said they do not aspire to headship, an increase of more than half since 2016 (40%).

NAHT members said that the government should demonstrate greater recognition of school leaders as professionals, ensure that pay properly reflects leaders’ responsibilities and keeps pace with inflation, introduce lower stakes accountability measures, and reduce leadership workload, to improve the attractiveness of leadership.

NAHT is pressing for fundamental, system level reform of inspection; recognition, value and empowerment of leaders; investment in, and reform of, the leadership pay structure, and for workload evaluation and reduction to inform every policy development, alongside a commitment to engage, consult and meaningfully collaborate with the profession.

Read the Crisis Point report.

First published 15 December 2023