There are real fears that the added pressure of Covid-19 will drive many more headteachers to quit. Suzanne O’Connell looks at the barriers we face to headteacher retention and recruitment

Clare was head of school at a primary on the outskirts of London. Before the pandemic she was at the point of applying to be headteacher. Now, she has opted to return to classroom teaching and has abandoned any ideas of pursuing a school leader role.

“I have a young family and I was finding it exhausting,” she explained. “I felt like I was running everywhere, it was non-stop, every day. I could see the stress that the executive headteacher was under and decided that I didn’t want that responsibility and the continued anxiety that it causes.”

Gary was executive headteacher of two schools. Although he is eligible for retirement, he says events of the past few years have pushed him into taking the decision to stand down earlier than he wanted to: “It is cumulative. Although the experience of being a headteacher is fantastic and enjoyable, it’s the amount of responsibility you carry. Also, school dominates your life and I think we’ve all taken stock of priorities over the last year or so. There’s a lot of satisfaction but there’s also a lot of strain.”

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