Job Stress 'Forces Head Teachers to Retire Early'

Article excerpt

FRAN ABRAMS

Education Correspondent

Head teachers' jobs are so stressful that fewer teachers are applying for promotion and the majority of heads are retiring early, according to a survey published yesterday.

A plan by Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, to train aspiring heads could simply deter even more potential applicants by showing them the grim realities of headship before they start, the report's author said last night.

The research showed small rural schools and those in the inner cities to be the worst affected. Many teachers have always been reluctant to work in urban areas, but problems in the countryside have escalated because of budget cuts. In these areas, heads now often face a full teaching schedule plus administrative duties.

The questionnaire of 200 schools, commissioned by the National Association of Head Teachers from John Howson, of Oxford Brookes University, also showed that for the first time a majority of new appointments were women. But more men were still recruited in secondary schools, and the chances of a woman being appointed were far less if there were a large number of applications.

Mr Howson found that applications for primary headships had dropped by 20 per cent since 1988, and for deputy headships by 30 per cent. Thirty per cent of outgoing head teachers had retired early compared with just 24 per cent who had left at retirement age. …