Turning heads: meet the ‘new kids’ shaking up senior leadership recruitment

Appointing a new senior leader can be difficult, but Headspace Academics is here to guide schools through the process

Appointing a new head is arguably the most important decision a governing body will make; the selection will change the dynamics of the leadership team and will generate excitement, apprehension and speculation. The way in which the new team member is integrated is critical to their achievement. Finding the right individual and supporting them whilst they settle, will have a profound impact on the reputation and future success of a school.

Headspace Academics, founded by ex-headteacher Richard Stevenson in 2018, focuses on minimising the risks associated with appointing a new senior leader.

The Headspace Academics team of consultants, retired from headship themselves and highly experienced in the recruitment of executives, has a large network of heads seeking a new challenge and an enviable success rate under their belt.

A surprising number of headships fail in the first two years; the vast majority of these should thrive in their new schools.

It is for this reason that Headspace Academics’ approach to recruitment differs from the norm. Their involvement doesn’t end with the successful candidate appointment. They continue to mentor the appointee for the first two years, to aid their integration, support them in their new role and help the school and governors ensure that the school and its leadership is secure.

A recent survey undertaken by Headspace Academics to ascertain how heads are feeling and what they consider to be the biggest threats to their success and that of their school, highlighted a number of worrying trends. Thirty per cent of the heads who responded reported that they are concerned about their overall job security. The potential impact of this insecurity can be extremely detrimental, not just on the individual’s wellbeing, both physical and physiological, but it can also have a damaging effect on their personal and professional relationships, as well as harming productivity and, importantly, school development.

Pupil numbers are a concern for almost half of heads (45%), closely followed by concerns regarding employer pension contributions (38%). The same heads quoted staff wellbeing as a likely problem over the coming year, with over 35% of respondents feeling that managing staff is one of the most challenging aspects of their role, and 24% concerned about their time management. It is no wonder that heads feel vulnerable and some senior leadership teams fail.

Thirty per cent of the heads who responded reported that they are concerned about their overall job security

Teachers entreat pupils to take risks and to embrace failure as a learning tool, knowing that thinking differently and being entrepreneurial provides the opportunity for success. It is ironic that the time when heads need to think differently and to innovate coincides with many of them feeling at their most vulnerable and, as a result, less likely to propose the more creative ideas that would drive a school forward.

Headspace Academics was not only established to assist with senior leadership recruitment, but also to support schools, heads and governors with strategic planning, value engineering and how best to operate with tight school budgets in mind. In addition, they have a number of highly experienced retired heads and bursars available for interim cover, their secondment service is available at no charge for those schools retaining them to assist with the search for a permanent appointee.

With training, coaching and mentoring services available, as well as marketing and pupil recruitment strategies on offer, the team can assist with essential future-proofing plans, not only to ensure your school survives but also thrives in what is a rapidly shrinking market.

The Headspace Academics team has a passion for education, an unrivalled insight into the delicate workings of schools and their teams, and a determination to ensure great value and great service; it is no wonder they are making an impact. With a 100% hit rate to date, these ‘new kids on the block’ are excited about the future and the future of independent education.


Richard Stevenson can be contacted via rs@headspaceacademics.com or 07722 022390.
W: www.headspaceacademics.com