Most heads 'thinking of quitting amid Covid chaos'

Ministers' 'chaotic decision-making' blamed as school leaders' union warns of an ‘exodus' of experienced staff

Covid and schools: Most headteachers are thinking of quitting, poll shows

More than half of headteachers are considering leaving their jobs, according to a new survey by the Association of School and College Leaders.

The school leaders’ union says the government’s “chaotic decision-making” and “lack of adequate support” during the pandemic are among reasons why there could be exodus of experienced staff “at exactly the time they are needed the most”.

It says increased workload under Covid, the public sector pay freeze and accountability measures are among other reasons why heads want to quit.


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General secretary Geoff Barton said: “These findings should serve as a warning to ministers that they are in danger of precipitating an exodus of school and college leaders at exactly the time we need these experienced staff for post-Covid recovery.

Covid: 'Unsustainable' pressure on school leaders

“Anybody going into school or college leadership knows it will be hard and challenging work, but there is a point at which the pressure becomes unsustainable, no matter how resilient the individual.

“This point had been reached for many leaders before the pandemic, and the additional strain of the past 12 months has made matters worse.”

Around 1,900 school and college leaders responded to the survey last month, and almost all were in state-funded secondary schools.

Just over 54 per cent said they were considering leaving their role. Of those, 13 per cent said they were considering quitting within the next year, while 23 per cent were considering quitting within the next one to three years.

Just over 71 per cent said they were now working more hours than before the Covid pandemic (including more than 11 per cent who said they were working 15 hours more each week).

Meanwhile, around 81 per cent did not agree with the chancellor’s public sector pay freeze.

Other reasons for wanting to quit included “burnout”, “increased responsibility” and “lack of work-life balance”, while others said it was due to “pressure from funding constraints” and some said “unreasonable expectations”.

Just under 22 per cent would leave for another role outside education while the same proportion would take early retirement, and just under 11 per cent would take normal retirement.

Mr Barton added: “Leaders expected Covid to generate a host of extra demands and they have risen to every challenge. What has been harder to swallow is the government’s chaotic decision-making, threats, diktats and lack of adequate support.

“Its decision to freeze the pay of leaders and teachers in these circumstances is not an isolated event, but comes after a decade of real-terms pay cuts, in which it has demanded ever more of schools and colleges while failing to fund them adequately.

“People will only take so much before they vote with their feet.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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