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Terry Haydn, University of East Anglia
"There's a lot to play for"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 15:29 GMT
What deters would-be teachers
young women with a-level results
Teaching can offer school leavers a challenge
A large proportion of school leavers are interested in teaching - but tell researchers they are put off by perceptions that it is stressful, poorly paid and has low status.

Research carried out by a team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that a friendly workplace and intellectual challenges are more important than starting salary.

But responses from 2,000 young people at nine universities and 25 secondary schools indicate that what they hear from teachers themselves might be more persuasive than recruitment campaigns.

The study was presented at a British Psychological Society conference by Terry Haydn, senior lecturer in education at UEA's School of Education and Professional Development.

Pay not the main issue

Mr Haydn, who taught in an inner-city comprehensive school in Manchester for many years, said the team found that about 20% intended to go into teaching or were considering it.

"So there's a lot to play for in the sense of, if policy makers did the right things, it would make a big difference as to how many high calibre teachers we end up with."

terry haydn
Terry Haydn: "Stress is more a problem than low pay"
He said pay was an important issue, especially where potential future earnings were concerned.

They were looking for an intellectual challenge, work that was enjoyable and interesting.

Opinion was split on the status of teaching. Most people felt it was not easy and that teachers worked very hard and had to deal with difficult and violent pupils.

So they were picking up on the less positive aspects of what practising teachers said was important, which was working with young people, he said.

Impact of teachers' tales

In interviews following this up, it emerged that they were getting their perceptions of what teaching was like from teachers they knew - friends or relatives - and these were similar to what teachers said in surveys about what they disliked about their jobs.

"In an information society, what teachers feel about the job is getting through.

"And one of the things you have to think of apart from marketing and advertising campaigns and recruitment buses is the reality of teachers' working lives."

There has been an increase in the number of trainee teachers this year for the first time in eight years, but there are still shortages especially in certain secondary school subjects.

The Teacher Training Agency says its own research suggests there are 5% of people determined to be teachers and 50% who will not consider it at all - leaving 45% who have thought about it and rejected it for whatever reason.

"So that's our core audience for our recruitment initiatives," a spokesman said.

One of the things it is now doing to try to win over waverers is a scheme known as the "open school network".

This involves potential trainee teachers spending a day in a school.

"It's an effort to counter some of the stories with the reality that many kids are interested in what their teacher has got to say and get something out of it."

  • Head teachers fed up

    Nearly half of headteachers are considering leaving the profession, according to a survey for

    More than two-thirds said they would go and work outside education. And 56% said they had come to this conclusion within the last six months.

    Workload was their main reason, with stress in second place.

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