chapter  1
17 Pages

Getting a head: The problem of supply

Most teachers become heads for idealistic reasons – they want to make a difference to the lives of children and young people. Most heads say that there are things about the job that they love – the contact with children and young people, and changing schools for the better. On a good day, there is no better job in the world. But serving heads also suggest that the job is getting harder. Heads now

talk openly at their professional conferences and to media about their discontent with policy, about high levels of stress and about leaving the job. There is concern about the shortage of applicants for leadership positions in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.1 There are also difficulties in both teacher and headteacher supply in parts of Europe. It appears that it is not only increasingly difficult to fill at least some of ‘the top jobs’ but also that a significant number of young teachers do not see the job of school leadership/management as something they want to consider. This chapter examines the ‘supply problem’ by considering its dimensions

and the reasons that are generally given for the lack of applications. It covers a number of nations, and in doing so, runs the risk of glossing over some important differences. However my familiarity with the situation in England and Australia means that the bulk of the examples come from those two places. I have also concentrated on evidence which allows an international story to be told about supply.