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Unions 2000 Monday, 17 April, 2000, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Pupils say no to teaching
Classroom
Pupils do not want to follow in their teachers' footsteps
By Gary Eason at the ATL conference in Belfast

A majority of pupils think their teachers are doing a good job - but don't want to follow in their career footsteps because they regard the job as boring and stressful.

In a survey, more than twice as many girls as boys in England and Wales said it was "likely" they would consider being a teacher when they left school - 22% against 9%.

And 80% of boys and 70% of girls said it was "not likely" - findings which alarm the leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), Peter Smith, who commissioned the survey.

"All the attempts the government has made to talk up teaching as a career haven't helped one little bit," he said.

An industry that has become so unconfident that it can't even celebrate itself is an industry in deep trouble.

Peter Smith, ATL general secretary
"The most astute observers of what teaching is like as a job are the children ... not the Ofsted hit squads," he said, renewing an attack on the stress to teachers caused by inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education in England.

'No thanks'

"They see teaching as an extremely stressful, difficult job and are saying: 'No, we don't want to go into teaching because we'd like a life, thank you very much'."

Market researchers Mori sent questionnaires to 115 middle and secondary schools in January and February, and 2,610 pupils responded.

Three quarters thought their teachers were aware of the need to keep discipline in the classroom.

Smaller proportions thought teachers knew about being fair to all pupils and set work that helped them do well and gain confidence (61% in each case), and were aware of the need to treat pupils as individuals (57%).

As the ATL began its annual conference, being held this year in Belfast, Mr Smith told journalists he was not consoled by the survey finding that overall 16% of pupils were likely to consider a teaching career.

"They don't do it," he said.

Oscars

"Even those who say they are interested as children by the teaching profession don't end up going into it."

Teachers could be their own worst enemies. The establishment of the "teachers' Oscars" - the Plato Awards - had produced a cynical response from some, including members of his own union.

He contrasted this with the film industry's Oscars, which were a celebration of the whole industry.

"An industry that has become so unconfident that it can't even celebrate itself is an industry in deep trouble," he said.

The lesson was that the government had "a massive job" to do to attract people into the profession, to overcome the huge shortage of teachers that would arise over the next decade.

See also:

14 May 99 | UK Education
13 Apr 00 | UK Education
07 Apr 00 | UK Education
30 Mar 00 | UK Education
29 Feb 00 | UK Education
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