Mortgage sweetener to attract school heads to Oxford's poorest areas

thisisoxfordshire: Gawain Little, secretary of Oxfordshire NUT Gawain Little, secretary of Oxfordshire NUT

FUTURE headteachers at schools in Oxford’s most deprived areas could be given help to pay for their mortgages.

The difficulties of filling senior posts in schools in Oxford’s most disadvantaged areas has become so serious that Oxford City Council is introducing a heads’ housing support scheme.

The plan is to attract heads to city schools with the offer of equity loans “to bridge the gap between what the applicant can afford by way of a mortgage and the purchase price of an appropriate property”.

A report from the council’s affordable housing officer, Steve Northey, says: “Recent advertisements for the headships of Rose Hill and Church Cowley St James, which are both good schools, have received no external interest in the posts and only one local response so far.

“Recent recruitment of the Blackbird Academy Trust in Blackbird Leys for the three heads of school attracted a small field.”

Since the report was written Rose Hill Primary School has filled the headteacher post on an interim basis for the next 12 months.

The loans will be of between 15 and 40 per cent of the property value, up to a maximum amount of £75,000, with small amounts of interest charged after three to five years.

Repayment of loans would be triggered when a teacher leaves his or her post, or if the property is sold.

The council would then benefit, receiving a share of any increase in the property’s value. However, it would lose money if the price of the property were to fall.

A maximum value of £500,000 will be put on homes purchased in the scheme, “which will give people opportunities to buy in most parts of the city.”

The council’s executive board will be asked to approve the scheme next Wednesday.

Gawain Little, secretary of Oxfordshire NUT, said: “I very much welcome this scheme which targets real areas of need for schools.”

With secondary school head teachers typically earning between £76,500 and £88,500 and primary school heads between £57,000 and £66,000, Mr Little said he would like to see the scheme extended to all teachers.

PRIMARIES WITH VACANCIES

Schools in disadvantaged areas of the city which have had to recruit new heads in the last year:

  • John Henry Newman Primary School, Grange Road (filled)
  • Rose Hill Primary School, The Oval (filled)
  • East Oxford Primary School, Union Street (filled)
  • St John Fisher Catholic Primary, Sandy Lane West
  • Church Cowley St James Primary, Bartholomew Road
  • (We could not confirm if the last two have appointed heads)

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