Does teacher exodus spell schools crisis?

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A “MASS exodus” of teachers and a difficulty in recruiting could lead to a crisis in South Holland schools.

Fears over possible changes to teachers’ pensions and increased Ofsted pressures are leading to a number of experienced staff leaving the profession, while a lack of infrastructure is putting others off applying for jobs.

University Academy Holbeach headteacher Steve Baragwanath said he has recently appointed a new assistant principal, having interviewed four candidates from just 10 who responded to the job advert.

He said: “It was not an enormous field.

“The number of responses to general teacher vacancy adverts has increased slightly in recent years, but it is still very difficult to recruit teachers to this area.

“It’s a shame because this is a lovely area to live.”

And Mr Baragwanath believes some of South Holland’s primary schools may find it even harder to recruit senior staff, as smaller ones could be seen as “vulnerable” to cuts.

He said senior staff often uproot their families from another area to move to a new school and could be reluctant to do so if they fear the school could be under threat within a year or so.

Senior vacancies in South Holland include a deputy headteacher at Holbeach Bank Primary, assistant head at the Sir John Gleed, Spalding, headteacher at John Harrox Primary School, Moulton, and a headteacher at Gedney Hill Primary School.

Janet Daniels, headteacher of Spalding Sir John Gleed School, believes recruitment difficulties are down to South Holland’s poor transport infrastructure, which makes getting to and from schools in the area more challenging.

The school, which is going through a number of changes ahead of a merger between the girls and boys campus in September, is advertising for an assistant head following the decision by the current position holder to retire.

Mrs Daniels said: “It’s a difficult economic climate, which makes it easier to recruit in a sense, but it’s difficult to recruit in this area.

“A lot of that is down to problems with the nature of the district and the roads and public transport, which mean there is a limited pool of staff available to apply for jobs.

“I think there is also concern at the highest level that senior staff tend to be from the older age bracket, so they are more concerned with proposed pension changes and there’s a feeling there could be a mass exodus over the next year.”

“It is definitely an issue.”

Assistant director of children’s services Andy Breckon said an increasing number of headteachers in their 50s could be reconsidering their future because of ever-growing Ofsted demands, such as surprise inspections.

But he said the county had a successful “grow our own” “future leadership programme” to provide intensive training for teachers with the potential to move up the management ladder.