How To Become a Headteacher

1-2 minutes

A Headteacher, also known as a headmaster/headmistress, is the highest-ranking teacher and administrative leader in a primary or secondary school. They are responsible for the overall management, administration, and leadership of the school.

The primary role of a Headteacher is to ensure the smooth functioning of the school, create a positive learning environment, and promote educational excellence. They provide vision, strategic direction, and leadership to the school, establishing and communicating educational goals while maintaining high academic standards.

Headteachers are responsible for managing various aspects of the school's operations, including budgeting, resource allocation, staff recruitment and supervision, scheduling, and maintaining a safe and inclusive school environment. They prioritise the well-being and welfare of students, monitoring their progress, addressing disciplinary issues, and supporting their social and emotional development.

If the end goal of your career is to become a Headteacher, in our latest insights piece, we uncover everything which you could need to know. 

What does the job entail?

The day-to-day responsibilities of a Headteacher can vary depending on the specific needs of the school and the educational system in which they operate.

Headteachers provide overall leadership and management for the school. They set strategic goals, develop policies and procedures, and ensure that the school operates efficiently and effectively. They may meet with senior staff members and collaborate on decision-making, problem solving, and planning.

Headteachers are responsible for overseeing the recruitment, selection, and supervision of teaching and non-teaching staff. They may conduct interviews, evaluate performance, provide feedback, and facilitate professional development opportunities. They also handle personnel matters such as staffing allocations, scheduling, and resolving conflicts.

Some other examples of a Headteacher’s role include: 

  •       Performance management of staff and discipline of students
  •       Liaison with school governors and board members 
  •       Responsibility for the safety of all staff and students 
  •       Overseeing recruitment of school staff
  •       Managing access to educational resources, including new innovations and technology 
  •       Keeping open communication with parents, making sure they’re informed of student’s performance and development
  •       Reporting to communities and education authorities on the school’s performance, such as Ofsted inspections


What experience will I need? 

Most Headteacher positions require a person to have began their career in teaching. This experience helps Headteachers develop a deep understanding of instructional practices, curriculum development, and student needs. It also provides valuable insights into the daily challenges and opportunities within a school setting.

Many schools will stipulate that at least five years’ experience in a leadership role, for example as Head of Department or a Deputy Headteacher, to demonstrate their ability to guide and support colleagues, manage resources, and make informed decisions.

It's widely recommended that a candidate will have experience working in multiple schools, in a number of different areas. Experiencing schools with different methods, budgets and staff will only stand an applicant in good stead, enabling them to bring more insight and perspective to the Headteacher role. 

Continuous professional development is essential for aspiring headteachers. Participation in leadership courses, workshops, conferences, and programs focused on educational leadership and management can provide valuable insights, skills, and networks necessary for the role.

During a Headteacher interview, there will be many common Headteacher interview questions which a Headteacher should be prepared to answer. 

What qualifications will I need?

Before progressing to a role as a Headteacher, you will need to hold a valid teaching qualification (either a PGCE in education or a teaching degree) and have experience working as a teacher within a school for a number of years.

Headteachers typically hold advanced educational qualifications such as a master's degree in education or a related field. These qualifications provide a foundation of knowledge in educational theory, administration, and leadership principles.

Where it was previously mandatory for a prospective Headteacher to hold a National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), this is no longer a required qualification. Teaching experience has taken precedence over this. However, gaining an NPQH will do absolutely no harm to a candidate’s chances of success.

What makes a Headteacher stand out?

Teaching experience and qualifications are essential, but there are some other activities you can undertake to give yourself the edge and make your case stand out on your path to becoming a Headteacher.


An NPQH is a great qualification to gain but there is also the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) that is available through the Department for Education. Although not mandatory, both of these qualifications will prove your dedication and leadership abilities, which are essential to the role.

Personal development

Involving yourself as much as you can to broaden your experience and knowledge is a perfect way to bolster your CV for a Headteacher role. Organising and leading events in the school or volunteering with school sports and clubs are great ways to prove your commitment. 


As you move up the ranks of the school, you’ll be exposed to more and more elements of the job that you were not previously involved in. A great example of this, and one that is crucial to a Headteacher’s role, is the school’s finances. 

If you can get your head around the budgets and numbers, you’ll be in a better place come interview time. Consider working alongside the Finance Manager in your school to get a head start. 


A superb way to learn about how to become a Headteacher is from a Headteacher themselves. In her 2017 Guardian article, former Headteacher Jill Berry said: 

“The relationship between the outgoing and incoming heads will have a significant impact on the experience of transition – a positive dynamic can make all the difference”

Approach your current Headteacher and enquire about mentoring. It’s the best way to get real life, hands-on experience of what the job entails from the person who knows it best. 

Latest Headteacher jobs at Spencer Clarke Group

If you’re searching for your next Headteacher job, why not take a look at all the opportunities available with Spencer Clarke Group now? 

Alternatively, why not upload your CV or speak with one of our specialist consultants who can discuss any upcoming opportunities. We work with hundreds of schools across the UK and can offer a range of opportunities including temporary, permanent and to temp-perm positions.  

Who is Spencer Clarke Group? 

Since 2017, we've been changing the face of recruitment. From our employees, to the way we do business, to the culture within our office, we're determined to make a difference and create a positive impact on everyone around us.

Recruitment to us isn't just about matching candidates and clients; we’re passionate about finding candidates the perfect job which has the ability to boost their salary and standard of living, better their work life balance and improve their mental health. 

Similarly, we understand the impact which an experienced and skilled employee can make to a business and we love seeing clients thrive through the hard work of candidates which we have placed with them. 

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If you’re searching for a new role, why not visit our job page to take a look at the latest opportunities? Alternatively, upload your CV and one of our experienced consultants will contact you when a relevant opportunity becomes available. 

If you’re struggling to fill a role, why don’t you give us a call on 01772 954200 to see how we can help? One of our consultants will be happy to listen to the challenges which you are facing and advise on the best possible solution for you. 

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