Parents add to pressure

29th September 2000 at 01:00
PRIMARY heads are spending more time dealing with parents than three years ago and their demands are adding to the job's stress levels, writes Julie Henry.

Nine out of 10 heads questioned in a National Foundation for Educational Research survey said the job was more pressurised than ever.

Government initiatives, volume of work, increased accountability, pressure to meet targets and inspections were also blamed for rising stress levels.

Nearly 70 per cent of 347 heads questioned said more time was spent with parents discussing issues such as pupil performance, behaviour and school admissions. Almost 20 per cent said trying to explain test results and inspection reports to parents ate into their time.

Governors had more power now than three years ago, according to 90 per cent of respondents, but a third of heads said governors were less involved with the running of the school.

By comparison, headteaches were spending more time managing school resources and carrying out administration.

More than 60 per cent said teacher recruitment had become more difficult in the past few years and a similar proportion said staff ill-health was on the increase.

One of the few positive findings to emerge from the survey was that more than half of head- teachers felt professional development opportunities for staff had improved in the past three years.

Working with children was the most rewarding aspect of the job for more than 40 per cent of respondents. Nearly a quarter said pay and performance presented the greatest challenge over the next few years.

The survey was carried out last winter when schools were dealing with a raft of Government initiatives and performance-related pay was high on the agenda.

'The Changing Role of the Headteacher in Primary Schools' is available from the NFER, on 01753 747199

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