Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Headteacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group on 25 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Laurence Findlay, Association of Directors of Education Scotland (Chair)
  • Fearghal Kelly, Scottish Government
  • Greg Dempster, Association of Heads and Deputes Scotland
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland
  • Seamus Searson, Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association
  • Victoria Smith, General Teaching Council for Scotland


  • Barbara Coupar, Scottish Catholic Education Service
  • Nik James, NASUWT
  • Lorraine McBride, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland
  • Angela Felvus, Scottish Government
  • Simon Cameron, CoSLA

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Laurence welcomed members to the meeting. He acknowledged that there had been a number of last minute apologies. It was agreed to proceed with the meeting to maintain progress but that another meeting would be organised for May which would prioritise the availability of headteacher members.

Minutes of previous meeting (28/01/22)

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed with the suggested changes accepted. The actions have been overtaken. It was agreed to set up a webpage to publish the minutes of meetings.

Action 2.1: FK to finalise minutes and explore setting up a webpage for the group.

Membership, remit and reference groups

The suggested modifications to the remit were accepted, including the change of the group name to include the reference to retention.

It was agreed to accept the suggested additional headteacher representatives to the group. It was suggested that headteacher representatives are welcome to attend all meetings, but may choose to alternate attendance to assist with other pressures. It was agreed that a programme of meetings would assist headteacher representatives to attend.

Lesley confirmed that she has approached SCDE for representation. Fearghal confirmed that COSLA had suggested adding a representative from SPDS to the group.

Action 2.2: FK to reach out to suggested headteacher representatives to confirm membership.

Action 2.3: FK to plan out a programme of meetings for the calendar year.

It was agreed to reduce the reference groups to two – one for PTs & DHTs and one for HTs. Sessions with the reference groups will be arranged for after the Easter holidays. Laurence will chair these and other group members are invited to attend if available. It was suggested that two times are offered to each group to aid availability.

Action 2.4: FK to liaise with LF on the reference group dates.

Action plan

The changes suggested to the action plan were agreed with particular thanks to Barbara for all of the contributions made to this. The group discussed the importance of achieving the first action as it relates to the wider work of the group. It was agreed to work towards achieving a draft by June with a further meeting of the working group in May to progress this. The group discussed some of the issues which this might cover including links to career pathways and the education workforce support package.

Action 2.5: FK to arrange a meeting of the working group for May.

Data pack update

Fearghal provided an update on the data pack. This has been revised following the last meeting and has been shared with ADES for comment. Some additional changes were suggested.

Action 2.6: FK to update data pack based on suggestions made.

Into Headship update

Lesley provided an update following the discussion on Into Headship at the previous meeting. ES are in the process of re-establishing the Into Headship Oversight Group with a meeting to take place at the end of April or early May. This group will include stakeholder organisations and the voices of headteachers, including past and present participants of the programme. ADES will chair this group.

ES have also now confirmed that Prof Alma Harris has begun work on an evaluation of the Into Headship programme. Aiming for this to be completed by September 2022, however this is dependent on her ability to engage with the profession. Greg offered to support this by sending Alma the relevant information on Into Headship from the recent AHDS workload survey.

Action: 2.7: LW to share contact details for Alma with GD.

Lesley also confirmed that ES have agreed with University partners that In Headship will have increased flexibility in terms of entrance requirements as a result of a suggestion from AHDS. Participants in their first four years of headship will now be able to join the programme.

AHDS workload survey

Greg provided an overview of the most recent AHDS workload survey. This is the seventh year of the survey and it provides a lot of information over time which is of interest to this group. He drew attention to the strong recurrent themes around the challenges of workload arising through the survey and made the link to the impact this has on people’s decisions whether or not to stay in, or pursue, headship. He also highlighted the responses relating to Into Headship which suggests that whilst participants still find it valuable, they are finding it increasingly difficult to manage alongside the demands of their role. He suggested that those undertaking Into Headship should be given release time to support their engagement with the programme, particularly if they are already in an acting HT role.

Laurence thanked Greg for sharing this report and agreed that these findings are very relevant to this working group. He also asked if it would be possible to share these finding as part of the reference group meetings. Greg agreed that this would be a good idea.

Seamus stated that whilst this survey is of those working in primary, these results are reflective of the workforce as a whole and would be the same from those working in secondary.

Lesley made the link across to the school empowerment agenda which is being reinvigorated currently. Laurence suggested could also be explored through the reference groups.

Lesley also highlighted a potential link to the Excellence in Headship Stretch programme and suggested that this work could be a focus in future cohorts.

Implications of the Prof Muir report

Laurence suggested that he would like to have a discussion on this agenda item but that it would be better to wait until a future meeting when more members are in attendance.

Action: 2.8: FK to add this to the agenda of future meetings.



Future meetings

The next meeting of the group will be in May. FK to prioritise the availability of headteacher members.

FK to schedule meetings for the remainder of the year.

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