Teacher shortage means one head for Holyrood Secondary and St Andrew’s RC Secondary

Andrew Denholm

Teacher shortage means one head for Holyrood Secondary and St Andrew’s RC Secondary

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SCOTLAND’S school leadership crisis has forced Glasgow City Council to put a single headteacher in charge of two of its largest secondaries.

The council said the creation of the new role of “executive headteacher” came after a low number of applications to a vacancy at one of the two schools.

The move means Gerry Lyons, the highly regarded headteacher of St Andrew’s RC Secondary, in Carntyne, will also be asked to lead Holyrood Secondary on the south side – one of the largest schools in Europe with 2,000 pupils.

The council said both schools would recruit a new post of “head of school” to join the senior management team with the

new arrangement set to be trialled for a year.

However, teaching unions warned the model should not be seen as a solution to the wider issue of school leadership shortages that has resulted in 100 headteacher and deputy posts lying unfilled at the start of the school year.

Jim Thewliss, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, which represents secondary heads, said shortages were caused by factors including pay, stress and lack of support staff such as business managers.

He said: “This is a reasonable approach by Glasgow to a less than satisfactory situation, but it masks the wider difficulty in attracting suitable numbers of qualified candidates for high-profile and important posts.

“In the past that sort of post would have attracted more than 20 or 30 high-calibre applicants to give a council the opportunity to identify a suitably qualified candidate.

“The difficulty is applicant numbers are low because of concerns about workload, administration, stress and the issue of pay.”

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union said schools were facing challenges filling a range of teaching posts from classroom staff to leadership roles across Scotland.

He added: “This appears to be a practical short-term solution, but our view is that this move is not a future model for Glasgow or other local authorities.”

In a letter to school staff, Maureen McKenna, the council’s director of education, said the Holyrood post had been advertised in January, but had failed to produce a suitable interview list.

She said: “I have been working with parents to explore models of leadership for Holyrood and I

am delighted to announce that from August, Gerry Lyons will be taking over temporarily as executive head of both Holyrood and St Andrew’s.

“To assist him with this we will advertise and appoint a head of school for each secondary school.

“Each senior management team will remain as they are currently. As this is a new position, we will be putting the model in place initially for one year.”

Ms McKenna said the arrangement, which will be put in place when current head Laurie Byrne retires, would be reviewed in 2018.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We recognise difficulties in recruiting heads in some parts of the country which is why we are committed to supporting teachers who want to take the step to headship.”