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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 12:44 GMT
Stress forces teachers to quit
teacher in classroom with pupils
Teachers say bureaucracy distracts from classroom teaching
More than half of England's teachers expect to leave the profession within a decade because of stress, bureaucracy and heavy workloads, according to a survey.

Figures show that 53% of teachers and lecturers in primary, secondary and university education do not expect to be teaching in 10 years' time.

This includes more than a third of the youngest teachers and lecturers - those aged up to 34 - who expect to quit, despite only relatively recently embarking on their careers.

In the ICM telephone poll, published on Tuesday in The Guardian newspaper, heavy workload was cited as the biggest issue for teachers who said they wanted to leave. This was followed by bureaucracy and stress.

teacher marking
Teachers feel pressured by too much paperwork
The findings were no surprise to the teaching unions, which renewed their call on the government to cut teachers' workloads.

Doug McAvoy, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "For the children's sake, we hope teachers won't leave the profession.

"But it is a measure of how far the government has ignored teachers' concerns that so many wish to do so."

Nigel de Gruchy, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "More and more teachers will quit unless the government acts to reduce workload with a contract protecting staff from unlimited hours and ever-increasing demands."

Shadow Education Secretary Theresa May said: "This government is overloading teachers with bureaucracy and has failed to deliver on its promises of more money.

"Little wonder teachers are disillusioned and threatening to quit."

Pay reforms

But a spokeswoman for Department for Education said teacher recruitment was healthy in primary schools and improving in the secondary sector, where there were shortages in some subjects.

Numbers leaving the profession early had remained steady over a number of years at 2% to 3%, and 30,000 newly-qualified teachers were joining every year.

She also pointed to government pay reforms which would give many of those responding to the poll the prospect of higher salaries.

Performance-related pay was "geared at retaining teachers who have been working in the profession for up to 10 years", she said.

"Previously, they would have found their careers capped. Now they will be able to apply for higher pay and career opportunities."

Separate interviews with parents for the survey suggested the vast majority were supportive of teachers, with 93% of primary school teachers and 89% of secondary school teachers seen as competent or highly competent.


Just over nine out of 10 parents with children in state schools said they were happy with the quality of education on offer.

In inner city schools the positive response rose to 96%.

Nearly seven out of 10 parents said they thought the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, was doing a "very or fairly good" job.

On homework, nearly one in five said children should start as young as four, and more than half said seven-year-olds should be doing up to 30 minutes a night.

A spokesman for Teacherline, the telephone helpline for teachers launched in October, said the service had already received 5,000 calls.

"A lot of teachers talk about workload and stress, a lot of teachers talk about Ofsted inspections, and problems with relationships with colleagues."

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See also:

08 Sep 99 |  Education
'Teaching caused my breakdown'
09 Sep 99 |  Education
Helpline for stressed teachers
18 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Teachers' workload rises
22 Feb 00 |  Education
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