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Wiltshire Leadership Succession Survey Final Report

Summary of Substantive Themes

Our analysis of survey results highlighted the following themes:

1)      the need for more creativity and flexibility in headteacher development;

2)      attention to `work remodelling¿ and the satisfiers and dissatisfiers of headship;

3)      the need to strengthen the sense of the collective amongst headteachers, governors and the local authority;  and

4)      the importance of succession planning as an integrative aspect of the recruitment and ongoing development of headteachers.

Woven throughout all of these are perceptions and expectations of the local authority in job satisfaction, headteacher development, and succession planning. In each section below, we highlight our recommendations based on our findings that are of especial relevance to the local authority.

Theme 1: Creativity and flexibility in headteacher development

There is a need for more creativity and flexibility in headteacher development – for those aspiring to become headteachers, those already in post and those nearing the end of their professional careers. Female headteachers were more likely to express an interest in exploring other leadership models than were their male counterparts. At the same time there is a need to make better use of the wisdom acquired by headteachers through their service to their schools as they reach the ends of their careers.

Recommendation: There is a good case for arguing that resources need to be allocated `closer to the ground¿ in supporting local initiatives in headteacher development – mentoring, temporary exchanges and secondments, action learning sets - rather than larger scale activities designed to inspire and motivate.

Theme 2: Work remodelling and headship satisfaction

The satisfactions and dissatisfactions that headship brings, which are reported in the survey responses, are familiar and in many ways unsurprising but are nonetheless important and need to be noted and re-stated.

Recommendation: The dis-satisfiers, in particular, suggest that headteachers may have not fully taken up the opportunities for their own `workforce remodelling¿ , though there may be particular organisational constraints on the extent to which any individual headteacher¿s work can be remodelled. The local authority may be able to draw significant attention to work remodelling as part of headteacher development.

Theme 3: The need for a stronger sense of the collective amongst headteachers, the local authority and governors

Amongst the clear messages from the survey responses is the theme of identifying the local authority as holding a potent role in shaping headship within and across communities and over time.  Responses simultaneously praise existing efforts in this direction as well as raise the possibility of greater symbiosis between the local authority and the headteacher community.

Recommendation: The creation and support of a network that embraces both the headteacher community and the local authority follows from this theme and aligns well with recommendations to both of the preceding themes. Such a network would enhance the sense of collective responsibility for the schools and could enhance opportunities for learning and development amongst all parties. It could also: raise the status and wider understandings of the role, reduce the likelihood of a blame culture developing, reduce any sense of victimhood in any of the parties and could strengthen the collective voice of educational leaders and managers in Wiltshire. Chairs of governing bodies could and arguably should also be included in that network.

Theme 4: The importance of succession planning as an integrative aspect of the recruitment and ongoing development of headteachers

The themes above highlight the importance of nurturance of and support for headship across the career trajectory-from recruitment to early career development to late-stage professional engagementas well as across the inter-connected system of schooling-schools, local authority and community. Succession planning may be viewed as an integrating web amongst these activities that allows the ongoing nurturance of and support for headship within schools and between schools and the local authority. Strengthening this web is particularly important to small schools because of the particular circumstances in which small schools operate.

Recommendation: There is a need to secure the integration of succession planning, recruitment and development  of headteachers in all schools,  especially small schools in Wiltshire.

In the following sections we provide an overview of the survey and respondents and then summarise survey responses in relation to each of the themes identified above. 

September 2009 Dr David Eddy Spicer


Professor Chris James


Department of Education, Universityof Bath

Mr Charles Sisum

 Schoolof Education, BathSpa University Mr Andres Sandoval Hernandez

Research Assistant

Department of Education, Universityof Bath

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