A third of school leaders are actively looking to leave the education sector

Chef Helpline ‘unfortunately not surprised’ by new report on teacher wellbeing

Chef Helpline ‘unfortunately not surprised’ by new report on teacher wellbeing

Student suspensions fall in second year of pandemic but exclusions continue to fall

More than a third of senior leaders are actively looking to leave the education sector, a new study has found that shows leaders are at high risk of depression.

The results of the 2022 Teacher Wellbeing Index, shared exclusively with School weekalso shows that the mental health and well-being of chefs, assistants and deputies has deteriorated in recent years.

It comes amid concerns over retention rates in such roles, with the Chiefs Wellness Hotline Head support saying he was “unfortunately not surprised” by the report.

In the survey of 707 senior leaders working in primary, secondary and higher education, 67% said they planned to leave the sector in the 2021-22 academic year.

This is an increase of four percentage points on the previous year, when 63% of senior executives told the charity Education Support – which runs the index – that they had considered leaving school for the past two years.

Of those considering quitting this year, just over half had actively sought to quit. This equates to 37% of all respondents.

School week recently revealed, headteacher turnover had increased by a third since before the pandemic.

“Too much” for school leaders

SchoolDash data shows there were 2,127 headteacher changes in September, when appointments typically peak, up from 1,584 in September 2019, a 34% increase.

An analysis of official figures by headteachers’ union NAHT earlier this year also found that more than a third of new headteachers left the profession within five years.

Ros McMullen, secondary director and co-founder of Headrest, said: “Unfortunately, this report comes as no surprise to us: we are deeply concerned about the loss of many headteachers due to a variety of factors.”

She added that these included the “oppressive nature” of Ofsted inspections, budgetary pressures and “increasing difficulties” in recruiting other staff.

“It’s all proving too much for so many school leaders,” McMullen said.

Education Support’s survey of senior managers included headteachers, principals, deputy and deputy principals, and department heads and deputy heads.

The report shows that the average wellness score for senior leaders is 43.37, the lowest in four years. During lockdowns in 2020, the figure was 45.20.

People with scores between 41 and 45 on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale are considered to be at high risk of psychological distress and an increased risk of depression. The average well-being score for the English population is 52.40.

“Overwhelming Workloads”

When asked if their workplace supported employees with mental health issues, 51% of senior managers said they did not feel well supported. This is a 10% increase from 2020-21.

They also showed signs of performing worse than other school staff. A total of 37% reported signs of burnout – more than teachers and support staff – and a 5% increase from the previous year.

Ros McMullen said the pressure was too much for school leaders in the education sector
Ros McMullen

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said the report reflected its members’ concerns about “crushing workloads” and falling wages in real terms that had left them at “breaking point”.

“Unless the government acts urgently to restore salaries and make school leadership an attractive proposition for teaching professionals, the school leadership supply pipeline will dry up.”

The Department of Education has been contacted for comment.

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