Appointing a new headteacher key to addressing other school issues

Debate – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
Large budget deficit, unsatisfactory Estyn report and a series of acting headteachers. We also faced a problem of overstaffing and an adviser who attempted to rectify the situation as we did not have a permanent headteacher in place.

What happened?
Overstaffing was difficult to resolve because the LA had tried to resolve the issue by reducing hours instead of reducing staff, making continuity and communications difficult. It was difficult to attract a new head, who needed to be a first language Welsh speaker, and there are simply not enough high-quality candidates. The governing body had also been keen to appoint a new Chair from outside the community with some experience of education. This happened and helped when they were able to liaise with the then adviser that we would not be prepared to appoint one of the previous acting heads.

What lessons were learnt?
The key to improvement came when we did appoint an enthusiastic, eager new headteacher with a wide range of experience of different sized schools in Wales and further afield. The LA also provided some help in financing the termination of staff contracts, as well as adviser and HR support.

Appointing a new headteacher is probably the most important task the governing body has to undertake. The skills of the headteacher are particularly important in securing the success and improvement of the school. The best headteachers are the driving force in taking a school forward and ensuring a strong commitment to high standards in all aspects of the work of the school. Bearing this in mind, the governing body will want to attract the right candidates to interview. After a succession of acting headteachers, the governing body was able to make an excellent appointment to move the school forward. Governors Cymru Services also has a guide on the appointment of headteachers and deputy headteachers and includes information on the advert, the job specification and the application pack:

This case study highlights several key factors:

Was the governing body aware that there was an issue with over-staffing and therefore an overspend? With a deficit budget, it is crucial that governing bodies look at the staffing structure to determine whether there is a need to start redundancy procedures, or consider reduced hour contracts to try and reduce financial outgoings. Whilst it would have been preferable to reduce hours rather than lose staff completely, sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, i.e. voluntary / statutory redundancies.

It is unclear how long the over-staffing at the school had been an issue. Did the governing body have a finance committee in place that scrutinised the spending at the school? This is an effective way of reviewing and monitoring the school’s finances. Governors Cymru Services has model terms of reference for this committee

Local Authorities offer a Service Level Agreement for Human Resource issues. If the governing body has concerns regarding the service that it receives under this agreement, then they should be raised using the relevant procedure with the Local Authority.

Has your school had to address over-staffing issues?
What did you do that worked?
Do you know what help the Local Authority or regional Consortium could provide in relation to HR matters?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?


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