Headteacher recruitment: an overview

Read our step-by-step guide to recruiting a headteacher or principal, including advertising, shortlisting candidates, holding interviews and making the appointment.

Last reviewed on 21 July 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 4536
  1. Know who has legal responsibility
  2. Appoint a selection panel
  3. Tell the local authority (maintained schools)
  4. Plan ahead
  5. Advertise the vacancy
  6. Shortlist candidates
  7. Request references
  8. Hold interviews 
  9. Appoint the successful candidate
  10. Communicate the appointment
  11. Evaluate the process

This article is based on headteacher recruitment guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) and the National Governance Association (NGA), and the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009, which apply to maintained schools.

NEW!Our headteacher recruitment training module, written and provided by Governors for Schools, sets out key 'need-to-knows' with advice and experience from governors. It will help you feel confident and prepared throughout the recruitment process and carries automatic certification that will be added to your GovernorHub training record on completion.

School type Responsibility   Maintained schools The governing board See page 8 of the DfE guidance Single academies Board of trustees  See article 107 of the DfE’s model articles of association Check your own in case they vary Multi-academy trusts (MATs) Board of trustees, unless delegated See article 107 of the model articles of association Check your own in case they vary  Check your scheme of delegation to see whether any recruitment functions have been delegated to a local governing body (Please note, when talking about 'headteachers'

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.