66% of UK School head teachers want to quit

21 March 2014 Last updated at 00:00 Share this pageEmailPrint

Head teachers want to quit under heavy workload

More than two-thirds of secondary school head teachers and deputies in England are considering taking early retirement with most blaming an excessive workload, a survey suggests.

The research from the Association of School and College Leaders and the TES magazine was based on 900 senior staff.

ASCL leader Brian Lightman said heads faced a “frenetic pace of change”.

But a Department for Education spokesman said: “Teaching has never been more attractive.”

The survey, published as the head teachers’ union was gathering in Birmingham for its annual conference, also showed that few deputy and assistant heads wanted to step up to become head teachers.

Only 25% are considering such a promotion – with fears about workload again being blamed.

Official workload figures published last month showed that heads were working an average of 63 hours per week.

The survey of views of heads and senior staff found 82% claiming that their workload had increased from a year ago.

As a result, the survey says three out of 10 senior staff are “actively planning” to leave.

There was a broad distrust of the Ofsted inspection process, with 65% saying they did not have confidence in the accuracy of judgements.

But their personal experience was more positive – with 57% rating inspectors during their own most recent inspections as either good or outstanding.

These senior staff did not feel supported by the government, with 30% disagreeing and 60% strongly disagreeing with the proposition that the government was “supportive of the teaching profession”.

But there was stronger support for the idea of linking teachers’ pay to performance – with 42% seeing this as a positive step, against 39% who thought it was negative.

“School leaders aren’t afraid of hard work, but when they are running to stand still in a climate of uncertainty, they are wondering whether their efforts are worth it,” said Mr Lightman.

“Head teachers have always put in long hours, staying late and working on weekends. This isn’t new. What has changed is the piecemeal and frenetic pace of policy changes and the climate of fear associated with Ofsted inspection.”

Mr Lightman called on education ministers to ensure there was “planned, phased and coherent change; and freedom to innovate without the fear of a poor Ofsted inspection”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have reformed teachers’ pay so that head teachers can pay great teachers more. It is pleasing that so many heads are so supportive of this policy.

“We know that the vast majority of our head teachers and teachers are hard-working and dedicated professionals.

“It is important that teachers work closely with school leaders to ensure that their workload is manageable. We trust the professionalism of our head teachers to monitor their staff’s workload and address any issues.”

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