Are school leaders happy?

On the day that The Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) revealed a survey that said two thirds of senior leavers were thinking of quitting the profession, the BBC published details of a survey by the Cabinet Office on job and life satisfaction that cranked some 274 different occupations by their satisfaction ratio alongside the average salary for the occupation.   Surprisingly, in view of the ASCL Survey, senior professionals of education establishments topped the satisfaction rankings for the eleven education occupations listed, with a score of 7.789 that put them in 11th place overall, just ahead of primary and nursery education professionals in 13th place on 7.786 some 0.003 points behind. Secondary education professionals were placed 34th on 7.637, just ahead of inspectors and advisers in 36th place. Support staff in school generally had a lower satisfaction rating than the professionals, with teaching assistants in 50th place, and midday supervisors and crossing patrol staff in 145 position, with a score of 7.308. School secretaries fared much better, achieving 17th place on 7.711 a score just 0.078 lower than that of their bosses.

SEN teaching professionals had a ranking placing them in 99th place, worse than the 61st place of Higher Education professionals and the 79th place of Further Education professionals. However, a category of ‘Teaching and other education professionals’ that presumably includes supply teachers ranked 106th in the satisfaction stakes, with a score of just 7.413. If you think the civil servants at Westminster are any happier, think again. National Government Administrative Staff has a satisfaction ranking that placed them in 187th place out of the 274 occupations. Clearly, not everyone is happy in the home of democracy.

Whether these two surveys support the jaundiced view that there are lies, damm lies and statistics, I am not sure. After all, I would expect heads to answer in large numbers that there were going to quit in the next five years because many are that close to retirement. I would be more concerned if the ASCL Survey showed younger head teachers as more likely to quit than those nearest to retirement. As to the Cabinet Office survey, I have no idea how many people we questioned in each category, and the methods used, but it is interesting that clergy came top of the 274 occupations with a satisfaction score of 8.291 whereas publicans cam bottom with a score of just 6.38. This really does seem to put God and mammon at opposite ends of the spectrum.

No doubt the scores for teachers will allow the DfE to take a more relaxed attitude to next week’s strikes by teachers, although BiS might need to pay more attention to unrest in FE & HE institutions. But, with the advent of free meals for infant pupils, the relative lack of satisfaction among meal supervisors that placed them in 145th place is probably the score for the group where the greatest attention needs to be focussed. Without the help of this group the introduction of the policy will face a significant challenge in many schools. Even more than the head, they have the capability to derail the policy if their lack of job satisfaction deteriorates even further.