A HEADTEACHER has told how school leaders are bearing an “unmanageable strain” caused by cuts and lack of staff.

The warning from Stephen Miller, president of School Leaders Scotland, (SLS) comes at a time when plans are being drawn up to give headteachers even more responsibility.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, has recently launched a consultation on a new Headteachers’ Charter – which will allow heads to shape the curriculum, decide on how funding is allocated and choose staff.

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But he has been warned that without a review of the current responsibilities of heads and their levels of pay it will be difficult to recruit senior staff in future.

In a speech to the annual conference of School Leaders Scotland, Mr Miller, headteacher of Denny High School, near Falkirk, is expected to welcome the concept of a Headteachers’ Charter.

But he will say: “At local level we are often working with our directors to find savings of millions of pounds that lead to a reduction in teaching and support staff.

“They also lead to a reduction in devolved budgets, when so much more is expected of us, a shrinking management resource to support leadership teams and cuts to those aspects of our curriculum that actually make the biggest difference to our most vulnerable pupils.”

Mr Miller said nothing was more important than raising standards for all, but he added: “We cannot close the poverty-related attainment gap without securing the essential materials with which to achieve that ambition.”

Mr Miller said he welcomed extra targeted funding through the Scottish Attainment Challenge, but said schools were still in “overall historical deficit” in terms of resource.

“Schools on their own cannot be expected to get it right for every child and the shrinking resource does lead to us … feeling that we are bearing more of the strain than is manageable,” he said.

Earlier this week it was revealed that nearly 30 schools have been unable to recruit senior staff.

Scottish Government statistics found there were 29 permanent vacancies of secondary headteachers and deputes in the current school year – virtually the same as the previous year when there were 30 unfilled posts.

Heads have argued a range of issues are putting off prospective school leaders including pay, bureaucracy and career structure.

Unions have demanded support from dedicated business managers funded through extra resources to help make sure they are able to take on the additional responsibilities in future.

Mr Swinney said: “I have been clear that headteachers should be leaders of learning in their schools.

“Through our Education Bill we are committed to giving headteachers significant new powers and influence.

“Our Headteachers’ Charter is designed to empower headteachers and allow them greater decision making in the running of schools.

“In turn we will provide an enhanced leadership support package to build the capacity of headteachers as they take on more empowered roles.” The government is also developing a recruitment campaign for heads in 2018.