been at my present school for nearly 4 years. I was HoY at my last school and dropped it to move schools (another story!) I was a very even if I do say so myself successful HoY and have the evidence and references to prove it.
3 times, HoY has come up in my new school - 3 times I have not been successful; today I was told that my data analysis was excellent, my experience was excellent but my answers in the interview were 'too straight forward; other candidates spoke more when answering' - I didn't need to 'fluff' as I know the bloody job and how to do it; then to top it all off I was asked when getting told I wasn't successful would I want to be 2nd HoY to someone who has no experience you can guess what I said to that one....
I have increased the results of my subject, increased the uptake in my subject, asked to mentor staff, asked to sort out another subject despite it not in my field just completely bloody fed up...the two that got the positions would leave very easily (both been looking for other jobs) and if they did it would leave their departments in a complete mess (one of them a core subject that is struggling to keep full time staff)
Sounds to me like they have given the jobs to the other two to prevent them applying for any more jobs and leaving. The reason they have given you, I would imagine, is one of those "let's try to think of a reason to justify our decision"
You may not want to move schools, but it might be worth seeing what else is out there.
SandStorm - presumably it's different jobs. In an average secondary school you'd have five HoYs so it isn't too odd for the role (for different year groups) to have come up three times.
cricketballs - I agree with pottering and colander. First of all, you could ask SLT for a further meeting to 'discuss career progression'. Remind them you've been a HoY before, point out that you clearly want to be one again and ask what you need to do to put yourself in the best possible position to get the next role. If you wanted to, you could also use this meeting to request CPD in any areas you're interested in or that you think the school would benefit from you doing. Secondly, you need to ask yourself how much you like this school. What's more important to you? Career progression or working there? If your career is more important then unless that meeting goes very well you should maybe start perusing the TES. Good luck.