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In the study, only half of those who had held acting headships had sought permanent headships.
In addition, about one in eight headships was re-advertised, with schools unable to attract good-enough candidates first time round.
Estyn also proposes mentoring senior teachers to boost confidence and raise interest needed to generate applications for headships in large urban and Welsh- medium schools.
There is a dwindling number of applications for headship posts.
I felt after two deputy headships it was time to move on and I really wanted to work with 11 to 14 year olds at Hastings High.
Those who are subsequently interested in pursuing a career in headship will be offered support, advice and mentoring by members of the association through their process of applying for headships.
From September 2005 it will be a statutory requirement for all heads to pass the new National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).
In 1993/94 just 19% of primary headships were re-adver tised.
The survey says: "In a controlled world where access to headship is governed by the successful completion of the National Professional Qualification for Headship qualification something is seriously wrong when the equivalent of 40 per cent of posts require re-advertisement because they are not filled during that recruitment round.
Armed with the belief that all experiences are valid and important, Marija Ullman is determined to make the best of her headship in order to help the Senior School grow into a well-established educational institution.
But Iwan Guy, acting director of the National Association of Head Teachers in Wales and the former head of a Maesteg comprehensive, last night said Welsh governing bodies simply voted for the best candidate in headship applications.
Local education authorities in Conwy and Gwynedd were the most successful as they did not have to resort to re-advertising their headships at all last year.