The Headteacher National Audit 2010

Headteacher National Audit 2010

Executive summary / Funding / Standards / Bureaucracy / Status of teaching profession / Lessons for the next administration

The TES National Headteacher survey 2010 was conducted online by TSL ahead of the General Election. An 'Invitation to participate' email was sent to Headteachers in England. Headteachers were also invited to participate in the survey via TES Connect.

The views of almost 400 Headteachers who responded to the audit are presented in this report and have been broken down and analysed by the following type of schools:

  • 201 State primary schools
  • 70 State secondary schools
  • 41 Faith schools
  • 24 Special schools
  • 13 Independent secondary schools
  • 12 Independent prep schools
  • 11 Academy schools
  • 1 Independent pre-prep school
  • A number of other schools (up to 25) e.g. Nursery and Infant

Our summary illustrates the key findings of the audit across five broad themes.

  • Funding
  • Standards
  • Bureaucracy
  • Status of the teaching profession
  • Lessons for the next administration

Executive summary

  • A large majority of Headteachers agree that funding should continue to grow (53 per cent of primary and 31 per cent of secondary schools). Comments gathered suggest that maintaining current levels of funding is 'essential' and 'must not be cut'. When asked about the funding system of schools, most Headteachers do agree it is unfair.
  • A significant majority of Headteachers agree that classroom teachers are sufficiently well paid – this is a view shared by 77 per cent of those who work in secondary schools and 78 percent of those who work in primary schools
  • Headteachers believe that senior teachers will continue to remain reluctant to progress to Headship as perceptions of it being 'stressful' with many 'responsibilities' are strong – 71 per cent of secondary schools and 59 per cent of primary schools agree. Respondents largely agree also that Headteachers tend to have inadequate power to deal with poor teachers (70 per cent of secondary schools and 67 per cent of primary schools) and the process should be made easier and quicker to implement
  • A significant proportion of Headteachers agree that if given the choice, the one single freedom they would like is freedom from the burden of interference from Government. 43 per cent of special schools, 33 per cent of academies, 31 per cent of primary schools and 13 per cent of secondary schools agree. Secondary schools would like to see more autonomy on staff appointments (33 per cent).
  • The majority of school Heads interviewed are concerned with parents establishing new schools – 74 per cent of secondary schools and 70 per cent of primary schools agree this would result in segregation between pupils of different backgrounds.
  • Opposite views exist amongst Headteachers for the best training route to teaching. The research suggests that perceptions of the BEd are very strong and that it is widely considered to be the best training route to teaching – 61 per cent of primary schools, 65 per cent of faith schools, 67 per cent of special schools and 67 per cent of academies agree. State secondary school Heads favour the PGCE as the best route into teaching – 46 per cent agree against 18 per cent for the BEd.

Funding

Headteachers feel that investment in the education system since 1997 has improved working conditions overall.

  • 64 per cent of state secondary school Heads and 61 per cent of state primary school Heads largely agree that they have seen a significant improvement in the education system as a result of increased funding. In particular, all Faith schools (100 per cent) and 24 per cent of secondary schools agree that ICT has improved (against 18 per cent for primary schools). Headteachers primarily agree that standards as a whole have improved (27 per cent of primary schools and 36 per cent of secondary schools agree)
  • A review of the verbatim comments finds that thanks to extra financial resource their schools have benefited from the introduction of new technologies such as ICT (24 per cent of secondary and academy Heads and 18 per cent of primary Heads agree). As a result of increased funding 18 per cent of primary Heads and 36 per cent of secondary Heads say they have benefited from improved staff numbers and class room support.
  • Headteachers believe that financial resource could have been better used if focussed on gaining more freedom (32 per cent) and on staff (21 per cent) for those who work in secondary schools. Those working in primary schools favour a focus on pay and conditions (33 per cent)
  • Equally, areas where schools are prepared to cut budgets is on equipment – 36 per cent of secondary schools and 46 per cent of primary schools claim it would be the 'first thing to go'. Teaching assistants were also viewed as another key area for scrutiny if budgets had to be cut – 25 per cent of secondary schools and 27 per cent of primary schools agree, as well as a third of academies (33 per cent) and almost half of faith schools (43 per cent)
  • A very large majority of Headteachers believe that classroom teachers are sufficiently well paid – 77 per cent of secondary schools and 78 per cent of primary schools agreed.

Standards

Whilst the introduction of technology has helped teachers, pupil behaviour remains a problem.

Headteachers have positively welcomed the introduction of technology in the classroom. This view was evenly shared by schools across primary and secondary – where 54 per cent of headteachers interviewed agreed that technology has helped reduce the burden on schools by making the recruitment process easier. 53 per cent in primary schools agreed with this view. 38 per cent of secondary Heads and 55 per cent of primary Heads agreed technology gives teachers more time to teach.

Headteachers also strongly believe that parents establishing new schools will result in segregation between pupils of different backgrounds – 74 per cent of secondary schools, 70 per cent of primary schools, 67 per cent of academies and 67 per cent of special schools agreed.

Most school leaders polled tend to agree that becoming an academy would help them gain more independence from their Local Authority, as well as providing them with an opportunity to obtain more investment (20 per cent of secondary and 16 per cent of primary schools agree on this point).

When asked about pupil behaviour, Headteachers largely agreed that the biggest change observed in pupils was a tendency to challenge authority – 19 per cent of secondary schools and 14 per cent of primary schools observed this. Headteachers largely attribute this change in behaviour to society as a whole and, more significantly, to parents: 41 per cent of secondary school Heads and 14 per cent of primary school Heads agree. To a lesser extent, the influence of the media and government policies were also seen as having contributed to raising awareness of children's rights.

The top measure suggested by Headteachers to help tackle behavioural issues is parental accountability – 32 per cent of secondary schools, 22 per cent of primary schools and 33 per cent of faith schools agreed. Headteachers also implied that a higher number of teachers in schools and more interesting lessons/classes would help.

On the question of the A-level, Headteachers largely disagreed that the diploma should replace A-Levels – 36 per cent of primary Heads and 74 per cent of secondary Heads expressed this view.

Bureaucracy

Headteachers see the increase in bureaucracy as an additional barrier to running their school effectively.

External 'interference' and additional administrative tasks are seen as the two key areas that have most negatively affected the role of the Headteacher in recent years.

  • 42 per cent of Heads in both secondary and primary schools viewed 'interference' from Local and Central government and Ofsted as a barrier to them effectively running their schools.
  • 35 per cent of secondary school Heads and 33 per cent of primary school Heads view administrative tasks as the second biggest barrier to doing their job well.
  • 33 per cent of Headteachers in secondary schools highlight the increase of administrative tasks as the biggest change to their job in the past decade. 25 per cent of primary schools share this view, and all schools mention the rise of bureaucratic challenge as the most significant challenge to running their schools effectively.

The burden of bureaucracy is seen as having contributed to a decline in the number of senior teachers' progressing to Headship – 71 per cent of secondary schools suggest a 'stressful workload' and 'too much responsibility and accountability' are the main reasons why senior teachers are reluctant. 59 per cent of primary schools also agree that this is the main reason:

  • A significant proportion of Headteachers agree that if given the choice, the one single freedom they would like is freedom from the burden of interference from Government. 43 per cent of special schools, 33 per cent of academies, 31 per cent of primary schools and 13 per cent of secondary schools agree. Secondary schools would like to see more autonomy on staff appointments (33 per cent).

Status of teaching profession

The standard of NQTs seems to have improved in the last 10 years.

  • This is particularly true for secondary schools, 69 per cent of which think the standard has got better overall. Primary Headteachers tend to think the opposite, with 37 per cent claiming it has got worse
  • All agree that the introduction of better courses and training has played a key role in the improvement of the standard of NQTs – in particular secondary schools (28 per cent), primary schools (29 per cent) and special schools (66 per cent)
  • The research shows that perceptions of the BEd are very strong and that it is widely considered to be best training route to teaching – 61 per cent of primary schools, 65 per cent of faith schools, 67 per cent of special schools and 67 per cent of academies agree. State secondary schools view the PGCE as the best option – 46 per cent agree against 18 per cent for the BEd.

Better quality teachers would improve the status of the teaching profession

  • Headteachers suggest that easier removal of poorly performing teachers would most help to raise the status of the teaching profession: 61 per cent of secondary schools, 42 per cent of primary schools, 52 per cent of faith schools and 67 per cent of academies agree
  • 70 per cent of secondary Heads and 72 per cent of primary Heads share the view that it is wrong that CPD is not mandatory for teachers following training.

Lessons for the next administration

The biggest failures of the Labour government since 1997 have been the lack of dialogue with schools, too much interference, too many initiatives and the inspection regime.

  • Constant initiatives were mentioned most by state primary schools (17 per cent), state secondary schools (18 per cent) and special schools (34 per cent)
  • Too much interference from Ofsted or the Government was particular experienced by special schools (33 per cent), as well as by state primary (8 per cent) and state secondary schools (8 per cent)
  • Lack of trusted dialogue with Headteachers was also viewed as a top failure for secondary schools (7 per cent) and primary schools (16 per cent).

Schools want to gain more freedom.

  • 67 per cent of special schools and 18 per cent of state secondary schools agree that Labour had not been radical enough in increasing freedom from interference, a change that would allow them to do their job better
  • 21 per cent of state secondary schools also expressed the view that the SATs tests should be abolished. The curriculum was also an area that required attention for 13 per cent of primary and 17 per cent of secondary schools.