Co-headships could attract more women into school leadership roles, campaigners say

Co-headships could hold the key to getting more women into school leadership, according to campaigners.

They say that the arrangement – whereby two headteachers share the leadership of a single school – can make the prospect of headship more attractive to women by offering them greater flexibility with family life and more professional support.

Sian Carr, vice-president of the ASCL teachers’ union, said: “We need to bring co-headship to the fore. It has many advantages.”

Ms Carr, headteacher of The Skinners’ Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells, will be the keynote speaker at a summit next month where school leaders, academics and governors will come together to discuss ways to counter the gender imbalance in school leadership.

For decades, the proportion of female school leaders has fallen short of the proportion of women teaching in classrooms.

The latest government figures show that in all English state schools, 74 per cent of teachers are women but only 65 per cent are heads. Job-sharing a school headship has never been common, especially in secondaries.

But as a leadership recruitment crisis bites, it is thought that the opportunity to share the responsibilities involved in heading a school could make the demanding role more attractive for women previously put off by its all-consuming nature.

“Some heads could share the week out between them so they can still have time to look after their families,” Ms Carr told TES. “It also gives people the opportunity to step up and be coached until they are ready [to take over a full-time headship].”

This is an edited version of an article in the 11 December edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version here. You can subscribe to TES online here or read the full coverage in this week’s TES magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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