Schools in many parts of Scotland could be left without the prospect of ever finding headteachers under new plans to introduce mandatory qualifications for the job.
Education leaders have warned there is “no need or justification” for the Standard for Headship (SfH) which could also deter candidates from outwith Scotland because they won’t have it.
It is aimed at better preparing candidates for the “rigours” of running a school and has been has been developed by the Scottish College for Educational leadership (SCEL). It is to be compulsory for new candidates applying for headteacher roles by 2018.
But it comes at a time when there are fewer and fewer candidates to become headteachers in Scotland, with many put off by the long hours and a feeling that the money is not enough.
Audrey Edwards of Shetland Council’s Children’s Services will appear before MSPs on Holyrood’s education committee this week as they take evidence on the measure.
“We already have difficulties recruiting headteachers, and this difficulty is exacerbated the more rural and more remote the school is within Shetland,” she says in a submission to the committee.
“It took us the whole of the last school year to recruit a headteacher for Fair Isle Primary School, which is a school with four pupils and one nursery child.
“When we finally succeeded we had one applicant. The year before that it took us six months to recruit a headteacher for Foula Primary School, a school with three pupils in it. When we recruited to that post, we eventually had two applicants.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Headteachers are crucial. By introducing a new qualification for headship we are ensuring prospective candidates have a high quality and supportive professional learning opportunity to prepare them for it.
“We believe a well supported route to becoming a headteacher will make the post more attractive, helping us to get the right leadership in the right place across all our schools.”