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 Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 07:29 GMT
Third of teachers plan to quit
Teacher working during lunch break
Workload is an issue for many new teachers
A third of England's teachers expect to leave teaching within five years, a survey suggests.

Badly-behaved pupils, an excessive workload and too many government initiatives are damaging morale and pushing more teachers out of the profession, claims the survey.

The chief executive of the General Teaching Council for England (GTC), Carol Adams, argues that a new national retention strategy is needed to address the "potentially worrying drift" away from teaching.

Her call - at the North of England education conference, in Warrington - comes as a poll of some 70,000 teachers across England indicates that 34% expect to be out of teaching within the next five years.

The findings are based on the 13% of registered teachers who chose to respond to a questionnaire.

The government says it is taking steps to make the profession a more attractive career.

Five-year slide

In her speech, Ms Adams said: "Overall, we find too many enthusiastic new teachers, who are mostly young women graduates, fairly rapidly losing their enthusiasm.

"For them, within the first five years, initially positive expectations about what they see as a creative, challenging and rewarding job turn into a wish to move job and a reluctance to say they would choose teaching again.

"We should ask honestly why this happens."

Her remarks draw on the findings of a poll - thought to be the largest of its kind there has been - carried out jointly by the GTC, Mori and The Guardian newspaper.

The study, conducted during October and November, suggested that the majority (64%) of teachers would remain in teaching.

Survey findings

Of the 35% who said they would probably or definitely not be, just over half were due to retire.

A tenth intended to pursue a different career within education - such as being a local education authority adviser or working for an exam board.

However, more than one in 17 - equivalent to 28,500 teachers nationally - intended to quit the classroom for another job outside education.

That is almost as many as began teacher training courses last autumn.

More than half said their morale was lower than when they began teaching and a third would not teach if they had their time again.

They felt the government and the media did not give them enough respect.

Learning time

Ms Adams said: "An equally coherent retention strategy is needed to ensure that those actively recruited are then supported and sustained to stay in teaching."

Arguing for the introduction of a career support plan, she said the evidence of what worked for teachers was spelled out in the survey.

It was being put into practice in many schools but did not touch the majority of teachers.

"For example, nearly six in 10 teachers would welcome the opportunity to have ring-fenced time for professional development and learning opportunities.

"Such a career plan would ensure that schools involved teachers in decisions about their futures, seeing them as valuable assets to be nurtured and developed.

"The plan would help teachers map out opportunities for professional development and promotion. It would turn opportunities for professional development from a lottery to an entitlement."

Likes and dislikes

The GTC said the survey showed that people's biggest motivation in becoming a teacher was the opportunity to work with children and young people (identified by 54%).

Next was that teaching was a creative and challenging role (33%). Love of their specialist subject rated with just over a quarter.

But the biggest turn-off was the workload, identified by nearly three in five of all respondents.

Other factors mentioned by one in three were too many government initiatives, a target-driven culture, and pupil misbehaviour.

Those most likely to leave in the next five years for a career outside education have had six to 10 years' experience.

Carol Adams wants automatic time out of the classroom so teachers can learn from and be mentored by experienced colleagues during their first five years.


In response, the School Standards Minister, David Miliband, said teaching was a more popular career option than ever - and the government wanted to keep making it more attractive.

"More than 13,000 people have returned to teaching in the last year alone," he said.

"The figures published today show that nearly two-thirds of teachers are happy with their career choice. We should stop talking down the profession."

As talks continue with the teachers' unions, Mr Miliband added: "I am committed to an expanding, better paid, and better supported teaching force, and I want all teacher organisations to work with us to deliver reform.

"Over 70% of teachers are still in service five years after qualifying. I want to build on that record."

The survey of teachers' attitudes involved a postal questionnaire, designed by Mori, being sent to all 530,000 teachers registered with the GTC in October 2002.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the key fact was that only 5.9% were actually leaving teaching to pursue another, unrelated career.

"We believe this is comparable with the turnover of other professions," he said.

  The BBC's James Westhead
"The survey by the GTC is the biggest ever"
  Education Secretary Charles Clarke
"Our task is to change those conditions which worry teachers"
  Carol Adams of the General Teaching Council
"Retention is the big issue"

 Leaving class
How can we retain our teachers?
See also:

13 Dec 02 | Education
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07 Jan 03 | Education
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