More than 80 per cent of heads believe staff morale has become worse since the coalition came to power in 2010, a survey of school leaders has shown.
Six in ten headteachers also said a job in teaching was “unattractive” to people considering their careers, with more than 70 per cent warning the role of headship had become unappealing to senior leaders. The figures were taken from a survey of more than 2,500 heads and governors by IpsosMori on behalf of The Key, the online support service for school leaders, and they painted a miserable picture of the teaching workforce. Almost three-quarters of heads said a career leading a school had become a less attractive proposition since 2010 when the coalition came to power. Similarly, 75 per cent said they were “unimpressed” by the government’s performance on education.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads’ union the NAHT, said the numbers showed a “consistent pattern” of sentiment was coming out of the workforce. “It has been a particularly bruising time for the profession, although heads say they have the highest quality of teachers coming into the profession but that they are not being treated very well,” Mr Hobby said. “Our job now is to take back some of the ownership of the debate around the system and try to paint a picture of what we see in our schools. It is the relentlessness of it [the criticism of the profession] that causes the most problems, and actually prevents the workforce from being self-critical, which is not a good thing.” According to the survey, almost nine out of 10 heads thought the quality of teaching nationally was “good” – just 2 per cent thought that it was “poor”. When asked about which political party had the best educational policies, a third were uncertain, nearly three in 10 said none of the three main parties did and a fifth said Labour. Fergal Roche, chief executive of The Key, who has written a comment piece on the survey, said the pace of change within the education sector was taking its strain on school leaders. “There’s a real worry among school leaders as to when they’ll have to implement the latest piece of new legislation, and this is reflected in their uncertainty about which party has the best policies in the sector,” Mr Roche said. “These results echo recent findings from the NAHT that parents oppose such rapid implementation of education initiatives.”
The Department for Education disputed the figures, stating teaching was the number one career choice for a growing number of graduates.
“Teaching has never been more attractive, more popular or more rewarding. A record number of top graduates are now applying to become teachers and there have never been more teachers in England's classrooms, with a rise of 9,000 in the last year," a DfE spokesperson said.
“The latest figures show that job vacancies for headteachers remain very low. Since 2010 the headteacher vacancy rate has remained below 0.2 per cent — and latest figures show just 30 headteacher vacancies across the whole country.
"The growing network of teaching schools is increasingly helping to develop the next generation of great heads, as they identify teachers with leadership potential and nurture them throughout their careers.”