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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 11:33 GMT
Governors 'fail on recruitment'
Head teacher working
Many schools are struggling to fill vacancies for heads
Governors should more clearly define the leadership qualities they are looking for before appointing a head teacher, school leaders say.

The National College for School Leadership says governors should not hide the challenges facing the school.

And a survey of heads suggests three quarters were dissatisfied with the information given about the school.

In 2004, one in five schools trying to recruit a head teacher failed to fill the post.

Make a difference

The college's interim report says better research would enable governors to identify the right candidate for the school's particular needs where more than one candidate meets the required standard.

Professor Geoff Southworth, NCSL director of research, said: "Defining the needs of the school has consistently emerged as the most significant part of the recruitment process.

"Governors must have a clear and consistent view on what they are looking for, if they are to increase their chances of finding it."

He added that the recruitment of heads was a delicate process.

"Every encounter a potential candidate has with the school could affect their decision to continue with their application."

Governors should not "gloss over" the school's difficulties, the NCSL says, as heads need to be able to assess accurately the challenges they would face - and many heads are looking for schools where they can make a difference, the report continues.

And governors could do more to attract applicants, it suggests.

Although attracting high-quality candidates was the biggest concern cited by governors interviewed, only 31% of heads questioned rated the recruitment advertisement for their position as good.

The survey questioned 1,325 head teachers and 279 chairs of governors in England.

Head teachers' leaders have warned that the recruitment of heads is becoming more difficult every year.

Research commissioned by the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association found that in 2004, 28% of vacancies in primary schools and 20% of posts in secondary schools in England and Wales were unfilled.

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