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School Leaders Survey 2013: high levels of dissatisfaction with many aspects of Government's education policies

26 November 2013

The majority of primary and secondary school leaders are dissatisfied with many aspects of the Governments education reforms according to a survey by law firm Browne Jacobson.

According to the School Leaders Survey 2013 nearly three quarters of school leaders (72) are dissatisfied with the Governments free schools programme which has been heavily criticised in recent months following reports of mismanagement at Al-Madinah free school in Derby and the Kings Science Academy in Bradford.

The survey also identified high levels of dissatisfaction with the Governments changes to the national curriculum with around three-quarters (72) dissatisfied, seven out of ten school leaders (69) unhappy with Ofsted and the current inspection regime and two thirds dissatisfied with the Governments policy towards the development of special educational needs provision.

However the survey identified overwhelming support for the decision to introduce the Pupil Premium with 72 of school leaders satisfied with its introduction of which 13 are very satisfied. The same was true for the Governments strategy to tackle disruptive behaviour in the classroom which met with a chorus of approval with 72 of leaders satisfied. There was also encouraging news for supporters of the academy programme with one in three maintained primary schools in England identifying academy status as a priority in the next 12 months. Another major high priority area centres on the school estate with 68 of school leaders looking to build or carry out significant capital works over the next 12 months.

For the majority of school leaders the educational prospects of young people today compared to six months ago have remained broadly the same. However more than one third (38) are less optimistic compared to six months ago and of these 1 in 10 school leaders are significantly less optimistic. Of greater concern was the impact on finances with over half of school leaders (58) saying they are less or significantly less optimistic about their financial prospects compared to six months ago.

Nick MacKenzie, education partner at Browne Jacobson and author of the report, said:

"After three years in power this survey is a fascinating barometer of how the Governments reforms from the national curriculum through to academies and free schools are being received by those at the coal face.

"Whilst the Government can take heart from the success of initiatives such as the Pupil Premium this survey has uncovered a real sense of frustration and dissatisfaction felt by many school leaders.

"Clearly reforms take time to bed in and it will be interesting to see how the mood has changed in twelve months time. For now, it seems the challenge for the Government is to make sure it strikes the right balance between implementing the reforms it passionately believes are needed to raise standards in the classroom whilst ensuring school leaders do not become disillusioned and disheartened by the scale of the changes being imposed upon them."

223 school leaders took part in the survey, of which 156 were headteachers. The remainder included CEOs, MDs, Executive Principals, Principals, Executive Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers and Principals. 60 of schools that took part were maintained and 40 academies and of the total 68 were primary with 32 secondary.

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Lakhbir Rakar

Lakhbir Rakar

PR Manager