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With education charities warning that England's schools could be short of 19,000 senior teachers by 2022, the need for a systematic approach to succession planning has never been greater.
Succession planning involves having all the right processes in place to identify, retain and promote your best teachers. Just imagine you are faced with the news that a key member of the senior leadership team wants to leave at Easter– who would fill that gap? Succession planning supports the stability and tenure of key teachers, allowing for their development and advancement, while also helping schools to secure their future success by making provision for the replacement of key staff in the future. Yet it is something that many schools don't plan in a systematic way.
As a starting point, leaders have to be certain about which staff they need to retain. This means having secure evidence about all staff performance and potential. Succession planning involves going a stage further and 'talent-spotting' those staff members you want to retain in order to fill existing or planned posts or to drive particular improvement priorities.
Know the skill set you are looking for and identify the people who show promise. Then establish development programmes which provide opportunities for aspiring middle and senior leaders to develop and master the necessary skills.
It is also helpful to offer personalised professional learning opportunities and to remove barriers to staff development as far as you can – for example, providing clarity over marking to help reduce the burden of it. And give time where possible…. that energetic and enthusiastic NQT you employed seven years ago may now have a house, a partner and several children of her/his own, making increasing demands on their time and energy. A small gesture such as one late-start morning or similar could make all the difference to the time that they have to devote to their career.
It's not enough to recruit a good teacher and consider it job done. There's a continual job to do in ensuring they don't leave for want of opportunities, feedback or reward.*A fuller version of this article appears in the December issue of Education Today – please click here and scroll to page 17.