Headteacher recruitment

More support for aspiring headteachers.

A range of measures to encourage more teachers to take up leadership roles in education has been agreed.

The headteacher recruitment working group  - comprising government, professional groups and unions - has recommended actions to support existing headteachers, and help other teachers move towards leadership roles and promote routes to headship. Actions include:

  • Councils will actively identify numbers of potential candidates to take part in the fully-funded Into Headship qualification
  • The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will support councils with local and regional succession planning
  • The Independent Panel on Career Pathways is looking at pathways into and beyond headship
  • The Scottish Government’s teacher recruitment campaign is being extended to cover headteachers

Addressing the AHDS conference in Glasgow today, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“There is absolutely no shortage of talent or ability among the teaching workforce in Scotland, but there is a need to identify, encourage and support those who are interested in rising to the challenge of the Headteacher role.

“While the number of teachers in promoted posts increased last year and average age of headteachers is reducing, Scotland needs more headteachers to inspire pupils and teachers to reach their full potential.

“A range of partners have now agreed actions to collectively promote headship as a rewarding and attractive career and better help those teachers who are willing take on a leadership role. Many of the recommendations are aimed at improving support for teachers, through improved coaching and development programmes, or by sharing best practice.

“This year, for the first time, we are supplementing our successful teacher recruitment campaign with a headteacher specific campaign to encourage teachers to consider a future in headship.”

COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councilor Gail MacGregor said:

“COSLA, as the joint chair of the headteacher recruitment working group, is fully supportive of all endeavors to improve the number of teachers considering and applying for leadership positions in our schools.”

Ken Muir, Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, said:

“GTC Scotland supports fully the recommendations in the report which, when implemented, will lead to much- needed and improved recruitment of school leaders. 

“The review of GTC Scotland’s Professional Standards and its support and guidance on effective Professional Review and Development are key components in developing leadership skills in future school leaders.”

Greg Dempster, General Secretary of the Association of Heads and Deputes Scotland, said:

“Headteacher recruitment has been a big issue for some time.  The Headteacher Working Group report does not shy away from the challenges that need to be addressed.  AHDS very much welcomes the report and the actions it sets out.”


Headteacher Recruitment Working Group - Report and Next Steps

Headteacher Recruitment Working Group - Route to Headship

Members of the Headteacher Recruitment Working Group are listed below:



Association of Directors of Education

Terry Lanagan, Sheena Devlin and Michael Wood

Association of Heads and Deputes

Robert Hair


Kathy Cameron / Tom Young (Joint Chair)

Education Scotland

Gillian Hamilton

Educational Institute of Scotland

Louise Wilson

General Teaching Council for Scotland

Ken Muir


Richard Bell

School Leaders Scotland

Jim Thewliss / David Barnett

Scottish Catholic Education Service

Jack Nellaney

Scottish Government

David Roy (Joint Chair), Stephanie Walsh, Clare Furze and Kelly Ireland (Secretariat)

Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association

Seamus Searson/ Fiona Dalziel



Dougie Atkinson

Society of Personnel and Development Scotland

Sharon Faulkner


Media enquiries

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