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Hiring headteachers out of season

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by newlittleindie, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. newlittleindie

    newlittleindie New commenter

    I'm one of a small group that is founding a new independent school after our current school took on investors who forced the head to resign and is now doing some very worrying things. There's not another choice we like in our area, so we've decided to start our own.

    Our timing is very tight as we have been working since October to open a school in September. The former head who we like is under the terms of a non compete, so they cannot work with us. We had someone else who wanted to work with us, but who has (at this late date) decided they are too far away to handle the commute, and now we are trying to strategise and find someone who is willing to work in a very small school as head in September (perhaps 40 children), with a smaller salary that reflects the size of the school and that we are a start-up (of course we are happy to agree salary increases based on increasing numbers - we expect quite a few more families who are too risk-averse to join at inception in the coming years, but we feel there is a future) and who is on-board with our non-traditional ethos (this is important to us).

    I know that the main recruitment period for heads begins in January, due to notice periods, and so we have just passed the normal recruitment cycle. I also feel that we have quite an unconventional offering that would not appeal to most people that look at adverts for heads, but that we also represent an interesting opportunity for someone with some senior management experience to actually help develop a school. The question is how to find a good match in the off-season, and when we are such an unusual offering.

    We considered waiting and appointing an educator who is already working with us as an interim head (she doesn't want to be a permanent head) and recruiting next year, but a couple of vocal parents are raising this as an issue, and I'm worried we will still face the same obstacles next year, but with better timing.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? What would you do?
     
    install likes this.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    You won't know who is available unless you advertise. This is, as you say, a very special case. There are all sorts of reasons why someone might just be available unexpectedly. Some of those reasons might be sufficient for you not to consider the candidate, some might just be perfect. There might be someone out there who would relish 6 months or 18 months as a fixed term. I've watched a school grow itself and it's really exciting, stressful and rewarding, so people will be attracted to the role. You might do well to offer the job with as early a start as possible - this would allow the new Head to get things lined up before the children arrive.
    As for people currently employed, you do have time before the contractual resignation date in May, but not much time. People working in the independent sector typically have to give a term's notice, so you are struggling a bit there, but negotiations with their current Head might allow them to be released from contract.
     
    install likes this.
  3. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    You could try, I think it will be slightly more difficult recruiting for a HT in April for a September start. If you get no success, is there someone who is at least DHT level who could take cover until a new permanent Head is appointed. You might not have them for September, but you may for January.
     
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    Your main problem is going to be the notice period.

    Many independent schools require one term's notice for teaching staff, and two for those already Heads or Deputy Heads, I'm afraid.

    Headteachers in the state system must generall resign by 30 April for September; Deputy Heads and teachers by 31 May.

    Best wishes

    .
     
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    You could, of course, advertise stating that the post is initially for a caretaker candidate, aiming to get a 'start-up' head out of retirement for a period of one year while you advertise for a permanent position.
     
  6. lightningconductor

    lightningconductor New commenter

    Maybe your chances of getting a head in time for a September opening depend on what you require of your head (though of course Theo's point about notice is critically important; even 'normal' teaching staff are within days of the end of their notice period for a September start).
    Do you want someone with current and up to date headship or at least acting headship experience? That narrows your field obviously. Contractually, the vast majority will be unavailable for a September start.
    Would you take on someone with considerable experience of working in education (maybe particularly independent education) and with leadership and management ambitions (and talents) even if they've never been a head? That is maybe more risky but widens your field as some might still be able to give notice or might currently be unemployed. (They may be amongst those who are about to lose their jobs because their current school is closing in August.)
    Do you want a 'figurehead' who represents the school at events, meets parents to smooth the waters when necessary, answers e-mails, takes celebration assemblies and so on but isn't the 'lead teacher' who drives the curriculum developments, determines CPD requirements, oversees assessment and so on? If so, maybe a retired head or deputy might fit the bill for a year or even two.
    If you have staff who are motivated and insightful, work well together and have a shared vision (lucky you!), you might only need a figurehead as the 'lead teacher' roles could be taken on by a management team of such characters. They may be amongst your team already or they may be recruitable. I am aware of a smallish independent with a junior department whose head is very much the figurehead I described above. It works ok because the DHT and key stage leaders manage the academic running of the school. The HT shares the vision rather than setting it.
    Good luck in your search and in the venture of opening a new school.
     
  7. install

    install Star commenter

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    [Content deleted at request of poster]

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2016
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    As an experienced member of slt used to working with new heads, I would advertise now and see what the field of expertise is like.
     
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    But you told us that your experience with your new Head was negative, @install.

    Best wishes

    .
     
  10. install

    install Star commenter

    I am not sure what you refer to?
     
  11. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    Perhaps I'm mistaken - but I thought you were put in a difficult position by a new Head, who seemed to have changed the ground rules for your role? So you had to continue juggling two roles, with less favourable financial arrangements? Something like that, but I may be mis-remembering.

    I thought that might have been rather a negative experience.

    Best wishes

    .
     
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    Oh yes - some time ago now. A big learning curve too. And then sorted with another new more positive Head...
     
  13. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    Glad to hear it, I did wonder after the thread about earning money in the hols.

    Quick turnover of Heads then! :)

    Best wishes

    .
     

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