A NATIONAL programme aimed at bringing talented headteachers to areas of need has been extended to Portsmouth.
Grants of £50,000 will be made to available to schools where headteachers are placed to give extra support and training to staff.
It comes as three schools in the city are currently without a headteacher – Meon Junior School, Moorings Way Infant School, and Portsdown Primary School.
But union leaders have concerns it may lead to more schools pulling out of local authority control and becoming academies.
The scheme is being introduced by The Future Leaders Trust, a charity aimed at tackling educational disadvantage.
The charity was set up with the help of Lord Adonis, who was the driving force behind the academies movement under New Labour.
Charity officials say many teachers are put off applying for the top job because of massive workloads and regular changes to their targets from the government.
Heath Monk, chief executive of Future Leaders Trust, said: ‘What we are hoping to do is find 100 headteachers across the country that are willing to move to areas that have traditionally found it quite hard to recruit headteachers and commit to at least three years there, working with other schools in the area as a cluster.
‘The £50,000 is not for the head, it’s support development of staff that are already in the school so we can build a pipeline of leaders for the future so we don’t get into this situation again.’
Amanda Martin, secretary of Portsmouth’s National Union of Teachers branch, said there was a concern that more schools would be inclined to become academies.
‘It’s also a concern of looking at the deeper rooted problems,’ she said.
‘The current changes in the Ofsted regime put people off doing the job.
‘The goalposts change consistently. We are on our fourth or fifth step of Ofsted framework changes.
‘Yes there should be accountability for headteachers and accountability for schools, but actually stop changing the goalposts and put some trust back in.
‘I like the idea of money going to schools and providing coaching, but I do think it needed to be explored as to what the other problems are.’
Mr Monk added: ‘At the moment we are looking for people coming forward who want to be heads.
‘Then we will look at areas such as Portsmouth and say where are the vacancies and where can we match the vacancies with a head.’
He said the key was schools working together to take the pressure off a single headteacher.
He said: ‘It’s about schools having the confidence to say “this is best for children in this area and we are going to go ahead with that”.
‘Yes we have to take into account of what the government framework is, but we can’t be driven by that, we have to be driven by the community and the children and what’s best for them.’
Mr Monk said a good headteacher was one who cared about the children ‘first and foremost’.
He added: ‘They have to be optimistic and resilient.’
He said they had to be committed to the development of other staff and bringing out the potential of adults in the school, as well as the children.