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EDITIONS
Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 11:55 GMT
More teachers are quitting
school staffroom
Report points to staffroom unhappiness
A typical secondary school in England or Wales would have seen 10 of its teachers resign last year - and five of them will no longer be in teaching, researchers say.

Leavers' destinations
Other schools: 50%
Retired: 16%
No clear idea: 11%
Other teaching: 9%
Other work: 6%
Family reasons: 4%
Other education: 3%
Source:
Research for NUT
The government has published figures showing a rise in recruitment to teacher training courses in England - to the highest level for seven years.

But research for the National Union of Teachers indicates that of every 100 final year teacher training students, at least 40 do not go into classrooms.

Another 18% leave within three years of becoming teachers.

The NUT said urgent action was needed on at least four fronts: Workload, pupil behaviour, constant and imposed change, and salaries.

Where they go

The research for the union was carried out by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson of Liverpool University's Centre for Education and Employment Research.

They say 52,000 people resigned from full-time jobs last year, twice as many as in 1998-99.

Of those about half moved to other schools.

Of the other half, 16% retired and 9% went into other forms of teaching such as independent schools.

About 4% went for family reasons such as becoming mothers. Three per cent moved to posts elsewhere in the education system.

Why they go

Their reasons for leaving were "overwhelmingly negative", with 85% referring to "getting out" of teaching.

Indeed only 6% opted for other professions - and then often jobs they had created themselves, such as consultancy work.

Shortages came about in part because extra funding and the rising number of secondary age children would have led to another 8,100 posts being created.

Schools were therefore looking to make about 32,500 appointments for this September.

"With some 30,000 final-year trainees, most of this demand could have been met by new teachers," the report says.

Training 'waste'

"But there is incredible wastefulness during the training process: 12% of those admitted to PGCE courses, or the final year of BEd courses, do not successfully complete their training.

"An inexplicable 30% qualify but do not enter teaching.

"Of every 100 final year students, 40 do not make it to the classroom. Given a training budget of 245m, this is an annual loss of 100m."

With another 18% leaving within three years, the overall loss of newcomers is 58%.

So the profession is not being renewed. The proportion of teachers aged over 40 - with retirement looming - is 61%.

Retention

Figures for September are not yet available, but on the trend of recent years 18,500 newly-trained teachers will have been available - leaving a shortfall of about 14,000.

Again, the tendency recently has been for people returning to teaching to fill half of those posts - leaving a gap of 7,000 which schools had to fill by other means such as recruiting overseas.

"It is this gap - whose effects will be cumulative - which gives rise to the teacher vacancy headlines each September," says the report.

Since better retention would crack the problem, the researchers interviewed 102 teachers from a variety of schools to see why they had left.

What upset them

Each gave typically three reasons.

Among secondary teachers, the most frequently mentioned were workload (57.8%), pupil behaviour (45.1%) and government initiatives (37.2%).

Others included salary (24.5%), stress (21.6%) and status/recognition (19.6%).

"Difficult parents" were mentioned by more than one in 10.

Primary teachers - who have borne the brunt of the recent changes in England in particular - mentioned pupil behaviour less frequently (15.8%), but were more likely to cite workload (73.9%), government initiatives (42.1%) and stress (26.3%).

About half the leavers were going without anything else in mind.

Idealism blunted

"The over-riding impression is of moving away rather than towards," says the report.

"This is sad because the leavers had often come into teaching with idealism and commitment. Many had positively chosen teaching, sometimes after experience of other employment.

"They said they were looking for something worthwhile that was not linked to targets and the bottom line.

"They wanted to work with children, pass on their enthusiasm for their subjects and enjoy the freedom of the classroom.

"They were leaving because they perceived these satisfactions to have been eroded."

The report says the government could tempt some back, but it would take considerable improvement in the areas that had driven them out.

Union wants urgent action

"Its present strategy of seeking to boost recruitment to initial training and make teaching more attractive through modernising the profession seems not to be working.

"The huge drop-out post-training and the hike in resignations means that any increase in applications and trainees is being dissipated."

The NUT's general secretary, Doug McAvoy, said teachers' concerns must be listened to and acted on.

"Concerted action on at least four fronts is needed: workload, pupil behaviour, constant and imposed change - and salary. The situation is urgent."

He said the older teachers who now made up the bulk of the workforce were those who had "flocked to the profession" the last time there had been an independent review of salary levels, in the 1970s.

"Then teachers' salaries were set at 37 points above average earnings. They are now just seven points above.

"There is a lesson from history here for the government on how to tackle a seemingly intractable problem," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"Lets celebrate the increase"
The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"It's not all good news"
The BBC's Rory MacLean
"Thirty percent don't go into teaching after training"
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