Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group minutes: 16 May 2022

Minutes from the meeting Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group from 16 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies

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

  • Fearghal Kelly, Scottish Government

  • Aleksandra Jonca. Scottish Government

  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland

  • Greg Dempster, Association of Heads and Deputes Scotland

  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland

  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association

  • Barbara Coupar, Scottish Catholic Education Service

  • Simon Cameron, CoSLA

  • Lorraine McBride, Educational Institute of Scotland

  • John Devine, Breadalbane Academy

  • Sabrina McCready, Inverclyde Academy

  • Zoè Robertson, Scottish Council of Deans of Education


  • Dougie Atkinson, Community

  • Victoria Smith, General Teaching Council for Scotland

  • Jen Crocket, Association of Directors of Education Scotland

  • Jon Reid, Larbert High School

  • Nik James, NASUWT

  • Angela Felvus, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting and introduced the new members to the group. Additional apologies were acknowledged.

Minutes of previous meeting (25/03/22)

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed. All the last meetings actions have been addressed and no items remain outstanding. The Chair confirmed that a webpage for the group is now live and it will hold minutes from the meetings of the group from now on: https://www.gov.scot/groups/headteachers-recruitment-and-retention-working-group/ 

Into Headship update

Lesley Whelan (LW) provided an update for the External Evaluation of the Into Headship Programme. LW confirmed that the exercise is progressing well and that its focused on main 3 areas of the programme, which are: intentions, process and outcomes. The consultations with focus groups should be completed by the end of June and the next step will be conducting a survey amongst participants of cohorts 5,6 and 7. Professor Alma Harris aims to complete the evaluation and report her findings by the end of September 2022.

The Chair indicated that a separate meeting with Prof Harris would be beneficial for the members of this group.

Action 1.2: Fearghal Kelly (FK) to arrange an interim meeting of the group and invite Professor Alma Harris to discuss her research.

There was a question raised about how the membership parameters of the recently re-established Into Headship Strategic Oversight Board affect denominational schools. LW confirmed that she will discuss the possibility of SCES joining the board with the Chair.

Action 1.3: LW to explore the possibility of SCES joining the Into Headship Strategic Oversight Board.

LW confirmed that the oversight board will cover quality assurance of the programme and the first meeting focused on equality impact assessments.

Action 1.4: LW agreed to circulate the membership of the board and share the remit with working group members when finalised.

LW confirmed that current recruitment for Into Headship is 210-220 participants. In Headship programme recruitment remains open but the number of participants is currently low.

Action 1.5: LW agreed to share the finalised numbers when available.

Greg Dempster (GD) inquired if the intake is connected to geographically supressed demand. LW confirmed that no such correlation has been observed.

LW confirmed that the Into Headship Awards will take place online on 19 May 2022 with 211 awards being issued to graduates.

Reference groups feedback

The Chair confirmed that meetings of three reference groups took place to date and that one more meeting has been scheduled to capture the views of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

The Chair confirmed that the summary of the meetings contains themes, actions and recommendations invited group members to agree which of the suggested recommendations should be shared with SBTE.

FK clarified that there is a distinction between the actions and recommendations in this paper. The actions are within the scope of the powers of the members of the working group and can be added to an action plan.

The Chair confirmed that there seemed to be common themes that all the reference groups highlighted . These include: job sizing, the difference between management structures of primary and secondary schools, the lack of consistency in recruitment practices amongst local authorities and some issues relating to the Into Headship programme.

GD highlighted that the difference in management structures between primary and secondary schools is not the issue and the focus needs to be on the lack of sufficient resourcing in primary schools which affects the workload of the management team.

Jim Thewliss (JT) highlighted that suggested that sharing the recommendations in the current form may not be the best solution. JT proposed that instead of a list, the recommendations should be divided into 3 key themes: workload, remuneration and support when sharing with SBTE.

Seamus Searson (SS) highlighted the areas of leadership as: curriculum, finance, staff, interactions with parents, interactions with pupils and liaison with agencies and the Scottish Government. SS suggested that there are not enough resources to effectively manage all areas within current structures.

The issue of lack of opportunities to develop in other areas has been linked to lack of capacity in the system. FK confirmed that the members of the reference groups expressed the desire to be given an opportunity to take strategic roles in the System while leading their establishment, and not as an alternative.

Zoè Robertson (ZR) confirmed that strategic planning is crucial when addressing systemic issues and variation of practices amongst local authorities. In order to be able to bring resource into the wider system the issue of salary needs to be addressed. There should be a greater consistency of support provided across the system. LW stated that there is research available confirming the importance of secondments and acting posts in the career pathways of leaders. The transparency of the availability of secondments could be improved.

LW noted that the summary referred to the lack of coaching in the Into Headship programme. LW confirmed that there are peer coaching opportunities available for headteachers through the wider workforce support package which could be communicated more effectively with programme participants.

It has been acknowledged that there is a need to investigate the existing policies for inappropriate use of social media by the public and the legal duties of employers related to this issue.

Action 2.1- FK to summarise the recommendations to SBTE as a draft paper and share with the group by email for comment.

Action 2.2- FK to update the action plan based on the discussion and share with group members  by email for comment.

Data pack update

Fearghal Kelly provided an update on the data pack. The draft paper has been updated, taking into consideration comments from members of this group and feedback received from ADES. FK confirmed that there will be 32 data packs produced and shared with each local authority with corresponding data. The generic paper will be shared with members of this group. FK also confirmed that a draft of a template of the letter to local authorities will be shared with the Chair.

Action 2.9 - SG to share a generic data pack with the members of the group.

Implications of the Prof Muir report

The members confirmed that the issues highlighted within this report are well known. The notion of empowerment of the headteachers that transpires from the report has been acknowledged. The findings of this report highlight the fact that the headteachers need to have sufficient support in order to critically respond to leadership challenges and to drive things forward. The Chair proposed that the group may wish to meet with Prof Muir in the future.



Future meetings

The next meeting of the group will be arranged before the end of the school year to meet Prof Harris and discuss her findings.

The next regular meeting will take place on 7 September 10.00-12.00

Action log

Action 1.2: Fearghal Kelly (FK) to arrange an interim meeting of the group and invite Professor Alma Harris to discuss her findings

Action 2.1- Recommendations to SBTE to be presented in a paper as 3 key themes – workload, remuneration, support

Action 2.2- Terms of reference alongside the action plan from this group to be sent to SBTE

Action 2.3- The Chair to make connections with HR colleagues within Local Authorities to explore the alignment of application processes

Action 2.4- The Chair to explore the possibility of increased peer mentoring, job shadowing and/or coaching opportunities for aspiring and new headteachers

Action 2.5- LW to review of the professional learning currently offered to aspiring headteachers in order to address any gaps and share best practice

Action 2.6-The Chair  to  explore the possibility of increased peer mentoring, job shadowing and/ coaching opportunities for aspiring and new headteachers

Action 2.7- Education Scotland to gather data on  the destinations of Into Headship graduates beyond the completion of the programme

Action 2.8- FK to reach out to the Curriculum Team within  the Scottish Government to discuss the issue of social media impact on head teachers

Action 2.9- FK to share a generic data pack with the members of the group

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