A heads up: Solutions to the supply problem
There is no single and simple answer to the question, ‘How do teachers decide to become headteachers?’ Research suggests that while some enter the teaching profession with the view that they want to have the ‘top job’, others do not. They form that view because they are working in a school with a good headteacher and decide that the job is for them. They decide to go for promotion because a signiﬁcant senior leader has suggested it to them, or because they have been ‘talent spotted’ and mentored (Baskwill, 2003; Bright and Ware, 2003; Daresh and Male, 2000; Ribbins, 1999). But working in a school where there is a less than stellar head also provokes some to think that they could do the job better (Sieber, undated). Some teachers take up advisory positions where they get a more expansive view of schooling (McKenley and Gordon, 2002) and many have headship thrust on them through ‘acting’ in the role when a head suddenly leaves (Draper and McMichael, 2003). In a study of 145 mainly primary heads and aspiring heads, Bright and
Ware (2003, p.8) found that:
the typical primary head had spent ﬁve years as a deputy while some of her colleagues skipped that stage entirely and others dwelt there for some considerable time – 26 years in one case before ﬁnally taking the plunge into headship. She had previously combined the roles of deputy head and classroom teacher. She gained her ﬁrst headship at the age of 39, and although a few of her colleagues achieved that promotion early in their careers, 26 being the youngest, one colleague took on the challenges of headship at the age of 56, an age when many in the profession are already looking forward to retirement.