Teachers were more dissatisfied with heads than staff with their bosses in any other sector. Primary school teachers also scored as the least happy employees of all those surveyed, who included civil servants, retail managers, financial advisers and the police.
The Primary Teachers Survey 1998, commissioned for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, is the first to compare teachers' opinions with the views of those in other jobs.
The same questions about job satisfaction were put by pollsters Opinion Research Corporation International to employees in 45 organisations Only 56 per cent of teachers felt their head was doing a good job overall: the lowest managerial performance for those professions surveyed. And only 51 per cent said heads gave satisfactory feedback over a job well done, placing them 23rd out of 28 professions.
Primary school teaching also scored poorly on job satisfaction. Only 45 per cent of those surveyed, considering everything about their present job, were happy.
They were more unhappy about workload than any other profession, with just 20 per cent satisfied with the amount they were expected to do.
Seventy per cent of full-time primary teachers said they spent an unreasonable amount of time on their job during the school year, with 66 per cent saying they had insufficient time to do their job properly. Among this group, 44 per cent said their teaching performance was negatively affected for more than half the time because of job stress.
Primary school teaching only scored highly in one area, with 76 per cent of teachers agreeing their job made good use of their skills and abilities. This placed teaching third overall in this category.
The eight-week survey was based on the responses of 1,878 teachers in 1,016 primary schools in England and Wales.
Peter Smith, ATL general secretary, said: "Whether real or imagined, there is clearly a problem. Too many teachers feel that they are being badly managed - and their complaints cannot be dismissed as whingeing.
"Top-quality management in the education service is essential to raising standards."
The ATL wants to use the survey as part of its campaign to improve teachers' workloads and conditions. It said: "The School Teachers' Pay Review Body has misunderstood, and sometimes misrepresented, the views of practising teachers.
"We believe it is important to bring classroom teachers' voices more directly into the national debate about helpful and constructive changes to conditions. "
The union plans to repeat the exercise next year.