Wales Journal of Education, 20(2), pp 204-224

This article explores issues of headteacher recruitment, retention and professional development in Wales, within the context of the wider educational policy reforms which, since 2011, have introduced greater external accountability into schools. The paper argues that these reforms have resulted in changes to headteachers’ professional roles and identities and that some aspects have militated against headteachers’ cultivation and exercising of their ‘professional capital’ (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012). The data is derived from thirty semi-structured interviews conducted with headteachers, deputy and assistant heads throughout Wales. Participants’ accounts articulate concerns that greater accountability within the Welsh system is acting as a disincentive to headteacher recruitment, and that head-teachers often lack independent sources of support, advice and mentoring, which they can access without the burden of additional scrutiny and accountability. The article concludes by offering a series of observations and recommendations to inform recent renewed efforts to create a new support infrastructure and framework for the development of educational leadership in Wales.