Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group minutes: 7 September 2022

Minutes of the Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group held on 7 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Laurence Findlay, Association of Directors of Education Scotland (Chair)

  • Aleksandra Jonca, Scottish Government

  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland

  • Zoè Robertson, Scottish Council of Deans of Education

  • Alison Weatherston, Education Scotland

  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association

  • Jacqueline Morley, General Teaching Council for Scotland

  • John Devine, Breadalbane Academy

  • Sabrina McCready, Inverclyde Academy


  • Lorraine McBride, Educational Institute of Scotland

  • Angela Felvus, Scottish Government

  • Stuart Robb, Scottish Government

  • Tracy Morton, ADES

  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland

  • Victoria Smith, General Teaching Council for Scotland

  • Jen Crocket, ADES

  • Sharon Patricia McLellan, AHDS

  • Simon Cameron, COSLA

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed the members. He acknowledged that there had been a number of last minute apologies and facilitated the introductions. The Chair noted that Lorraine McBride has secured a new role and will no longer be representing the EIS at the group. The vacancy for the ADES representative has also been noted. The Chair requested the secretariat to arrange replacements. The Chair has acknowledged the departure of Fearghal Kelly from the group and thank him for his work and support over the last few months.

Minutes of previous meeting (16/05/22)

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without amendments. The Chair invited those responsible for the outstanding actions to comment on the progress made. 

Action 3 - Work with LA HR colleagues to explore whether any alignment of application processes could be considered.

The Chair confirmed that he participated in ADES Personnel Network meeting on 21 May 2022 to discuss the necessity of the alignment of recruitment processes to make the opportunities more accessible for people who apply for a number of roles within different Local Authorities. Discussions on streamlining recruitment have been going on for a few years, but all actions have been put on hold because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Chair added that any alignment should consider the fact that each school is individual and has its own challenges and opportunities.

It has been noted that ADES Personal Network has been in touch with The Society of Personnel and Development Scotland (SPDS) to discuss recruitment.

Action 4- Invite SCES to join the recently established Into Headship Oversight Board- Completed

Action 5- Undertake further research to into the destinations of Into Headship graduates beyond the completion of the programme- Alison Weatherspoon( AW) confirmed that Education Scotland is working on a data protection impact assessment that may be helpful to advance this demand.

Action 6- Review Local Authority social media policies in place for school leaders- remains outstanding

Action 7- Liaise with SG Curriculum Unit on existing activity around social media use by parents and more widely in the curriculum- Aleksandra will progress this action

SBTE paper and feedback received

The  Chair confirmed that the suggestion of SBTE to include the information into the National Improvement Framework should be considered and this can be seen as an opportunity for the group to influence the content of the National Improvement Framework.

Jim Thewliss (JT) noted that group involvement in the creation of the NIF content is critical to give credibility to the group. The Chair suggested that the SBTE highlight the work of the group to the Scottish Education Council. The Strategic Board could be used as a means to put the strategic issues identified by the group on the agenda on an on-going basis. The Chair suggested taking the report/attending the SEC meeting with a presentation to increase awareness. The Chair will schedule a meeting with SG policy colleagues to discuss the best way to proceed.

It has been observed that the NIF report does not provide a true reflection of the learning and leadership competencies acquired, as it only measures the number of headteachers. Broader data would help raise awareness on the SEC forum.

It’s been also noted that the data packs have been well received within Local Authorities


The chair confirmed that the last meeting of Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Group was arranged to gather views and feedback from colleagues from BAME communities on the challenges and opportunities of aspiring headteachers.

The 3 key themes have transpired from the feedback received: 

  • representation 
  • transparency of the opportunities 
  • the education of the Leaders 

The Chair asked members to share their views on measures the group might consider to improve diversity in recruiting and retention.

The Chair suggested that invitation is to be issued to SAMEE representative to join the meeting of the group.

Zoe Robertson confirmed that there is a lack of diversity among those participating in teacher leadership and middle leadership programs in recent years. Anecdotal evidence indicates that local authorities face human resource barriers in reaching aspiring participants.

It was confirmed that strategic approach and recruitment authority are needed to achieve meaningful change.

Jac confirmed that she will share the meeting materials with Asif Chishti, who has just been appointed as the National Racial Diversity Lead in GTCS.

AW also confirmed that her colleague Melina Valdelièvre leads the Building Racial Literacy program, which is open to all colleagues in the system. AW will share the handout with Melina as well. AW also confirmed that the equity in professional learning will be raised at the Into Headship Oversight Board.

AWalso confirmed that the Into Headship program is open to all colleagues who meet the entry criteria and there should not be competition among potential participants.

The role of professional associations belonging to this group in promoting diversity was discussed.The suggestion has been made that associations can provide positive leadership by collaborating on diversity. This would allow for a coordinated and mutually supportive effort.

Jim noted that the leadership pathway must enable the group to have a positive impact.


JT noted that the action plan will have to be rewritten to clarify the distinction between operational and strategic actions. The group needs to focus their efforts on strategic actions.

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