Sunday, 2 January 2011

Legislation Governing the Appointment of Headteachers

Legislation Governing the Appointment of Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers

The governing body must:

1. Notify the Local Authority

This would ordinarily be done by the chair of governors as it is to the chair that the headteacher should submit their resignation. Faith schools governors should also inform their Diocese, as they too may wish to offer support and take an active role in the recruitment and
selection process.

2. Appoint a selection panel

The panel must be appointed by the whole governing body and should comprise of no less than three governors. It is essential that the panel members understand the time required to fulfil this vital responsibility and that they commit this time at the start of the process of recruitment. The power to appoint is not delegated to the selection panel. They are responsible for the management of the recruitment process and select a candidate for their colleague governors to consider.

The selection panel must then present their chosen candidate to a quorate formal meeting of the governing body, who will ratify the selection decision. This process means that the full governing body formally accept the recommendation of the panel. In doing so, they signify their full support to the new headteacher or deputy headteacher.

3. Review the School Range

Guidance on how to do this can be found in the current School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Service Document. All schools are sent a copy of the latest version of this key document by the Department of Education (DfE). It is available to download from

4. Ensure Safer Recruitment practices are followed

Schools are under a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Recruiting staff without following guidance and statute may put the safety of pupils at risk. It is important that schools not only follow guidance, but are seen to be doing so. The best way to minimise risk is to ensure that there are open processes and clear expectations of all in regard to safeguarding children.

An appropriate statement should be included in all publicity materials, including the Application pack, job description and person specification, advertisements and the school website etc. e.g. “This school is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment”.

5. Advertise the vacancy

All headteacher and deputy headteacher posts should be publicly advertised in a recognised national newspaper such as the Times Education Supplement (TES).

6. Confirm NPQH Status

All candidates seeking their first headteacher appointment must have achieved the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). The selection panel should seek evidence that this is the case. Any serving headteacher appointed to their first headship since April 2004 should also now possess an NPQH.

The full Guidance is available as a free download from the NCSL website

7. Take Advice

Governors are required to accept external advice on the appointment of their new headteacher.

All headteacher appointments must include at least one representative of the Local Authority advising the selection panel. This will be the schools attached Leadership and Management Consultant/School Improvement Partner. Governors can engage other advisors to meet any needs they identify. The selection panel is advised to discuss and make decisions about whether to involve additional advisors in the headteacher recruitment and appointment process.

Please note that advisors do not have the right to vote in the selection decision, their purpose is to assist the selection panel in the fair gathering and analysis of evidence which will inform the selection decision. In very extraordinary circumstances the Local Authority (LA)representatives may advise the governors to reject their selected candidate.

All secondary school headteacher appointments are attended by the schools LEO (Local Education Officer) who attends the process in an advisory capacity.

8. Other Legislation

The appointment of all staff, including headteachers, is governed by data protection and extensive employment legislation, particularly in respect of discrimination. This establishes the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sex,race,disability,religion (except in some cases where schools with a religious character are able to justify this because there is a genuine occupational qualification (GOQ) requirement for the post),disability or pay.


  1. Good post.
    Do you have any guidance for appointing the first Executive Head of a federation, when there is only one Headteacher in post?

  2. Shouldn't be much different really! You should still follow the same process and advertise it externally. The federation will want the best person for the Executive head job who may or may not be an internal candidate. Good luck!

  3. I think if you have a head teacher in post, if it is a federation, then they automatically get the job - I know this post was a while ago but for those who are looking now, this has been the advice we have received from our LA rep on this situation ...