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May 5

Workload forcing new teachers out of the profession, survey suggests

This article is more than 7 years old

New recruits say they don’t have a good work-life balance and 25% think they will quit in their first five years

Nicky Morgan
Education secretary Nicky Morgan has launched a survey asking teachers to share views on unnecessary workloads. The findings will be revealed later this year. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP

Almost three quarters (73%) of trainee and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have considered leaving the profession, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Heavy workloads are wreaking havoc among new recruits as 76% of respondents cited this as the main reason they considered quitting.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) of the 889 students and NQTs surveyed by the union said they did not feel that they had a good work-life balance and the amount of work they were expected to do was the most common reason for disliking their jobs.

Other factors that made those starting out in teaching think about a change of career included “teacher bashing” in the press and a lack of respect for profession (30%). Around 26% blamed an increasing expectation to take part in out-of hours activities for their reservations.

When asked about out-of hours work, almost half (46%) said they work between six and 10 hours at the weekend during term time, while 28% work more than 10 hours. Just 2% did no work at all at this time.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “Unless the government makes changes to address teachers’ workloads, we fear thousands of great teachers will leave.”

In response to the findings, a spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said: “The secretary of state has made clear to the teaching unions our commitment to working with them to help reduce unnecessarily high workloads, caused by needless bureaucracy. We also announced our support for a new independent College of Teaching – a new organisation being developed by teachers for teachers to champion high standards in the profession.”

Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, was not surprised by the research results: “Teachers do not enter the profession expecting to work 9 to 5, but the fact is workloads are spiralling out of control. This is having a devastating impact not only on teachers’ mental and physical health but also on their ability to teach.”

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Of those surveyed, 25% said challenging pupil behaviour was the reason they had considered leaving – it came fifth in a list of 18 options. This comes almost exactly one year after Ofsted’s chief inspector, Michael Wilshaw, blamed “misbehaviour in schools” as a key reason why two-fifths of teachers quit in the first five years – a phenomenon he labelled a “national scandal”.

In the ATL’s most recent survey, by comparison, 25% of young recruits said they didn’t think they would still be teaching in five years’ time, although this figure more than doubled to 53% when the time frame was extended to 10 years.

Stanley said: “Finding a balance between maintaining and driving up standards while supporting teachers is in the best interest of children, parents, governors and school leaders. Health and wellbeing matters are not soft options but have a direct impact on the culture of a school, recruitment and retention of staff and student outcomes.”

Alan Newland, former primary headteacher, now lecturing and writing about teaching, said: “It’s not just the government that’s making huge demands on students and NQTs, schools and training centres can be just as bad, especially when they have an Ofsted [inspection].

“There is too much demanded – often on pain of failure or censure – on young teachers who are still learning the craft. They should be allowed time and tolerance to think creatively, make mistakes and learn from them. We encourage this for our pupils – student teachers and NQTs should be able to do the same. Just because you raise demands and expectations does not mean you raise standards.”

The results come at a worrying time for the profession, which is facing a recruitment crisis. Last year, official statistics showed that the government missed its recruitment target for the third year in a row.

John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, said: “The subject which worries me the most is design and technology where we have lost the equivalent of a whole training cohort in the last two years.

“The secretary of state and policy makers need to recognise that all teachers are there for the right reasons. Teachers work an employer-driven form of flexi time – they have to work extremely hard during term time and then catch up a little on this during the holidays. But even this is being eroded now, for example, as secondary teachers are expected to be in school during A-level and GCSE season.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Teaching continues to be a hugely popular career with more teachers in England’s classrooms than ever before. We want to attract the best and brightest graduates into the teaching – and keep them there.”

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Posted May 5, 2022 by Ready Aim Shoot in category Bridges Educator Site

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