Lure of top job falls for six out of 10 leaders since 2008
The study of 1,200 school leaders showed they were becoming increasingly frustrated by mounting paperwork unconnected with teaching and learning, and the lack of contact with pupils.
The research, by school leaders' support service The Key, suggests the situation is set to get even worse as schools break away from local authorities and start to take responsibility for every aspect of their operation.
"Those school leaders who considered themselves less likely to apply for headship stated that they weren't prepared to take on the burden of administration, and that they were worried about the stress and the impact on their work-life balance that the role might bring," it says.
"They also stated that they were happy with their current role and didn't want to move away from teaching and contact with pupils."
This findings come just weeks after a report by analysts Education Data Surveys found that a third of primaries in England and Wales seeking a headteacher last year failed to find one.
Headteachers in the latest report complained that they craved more contact with staff and pupils.
One wrote on the questionnaire: "The paperwork, and the need to show evidence in soooo (sic) many ways is incredibly time consuming. It is easy to go days without seeing a child!"
Another wrote: "I've been working in schools for 35 years and the role of headteacher has changed dramatically - from being a `headteacher' who worried solely about learning and teaching in the school to someone who is, in effect, a managing director of a small business."
As part of the study, school leaders were also asked where they got information on running their schools. The local authority came top in the poll, while "other schools' websites" came second.