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Friday, 2 April, 1999, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Pupils shun teaching over 'low pay and stress'
school library
Efforts are being made to make teaching more attractive
Secondary school pupils say teaching does not attract them as a career, according to a union survey.

As a profession it offers "too much stress and too little pay", said Peter Smith, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which commissioned the poll.

Unions 99
Only 5% of secondary school pupils, one in 20, said they were "very likely" to become teachers - down from 7% last year.

This is in the face of the government's efforts to persuade more people to go into teaching, to address a serious shortage of trainee teachers.

The poll was done ahead of the ATL's annual conference, which begins in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on Monday.

Conference issue

Proposals to reform teachers' conditions, pay in particular, will feature prominently - as they will at the later Easter conferences of the two biggest classroom teachers' unions, the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers. They are threatening industrial action to block the proposals.

It may be that the high profile that the issue of pay has had in recent months has had a deterrent effect on youngsters.

The ATL's survey was conducted by the Mori polling organisation. It found that 75% of a sample of children aged 11 to 16 had no intention of becoming teachers, up from 71% last year.

One in three of the 11 to 16-year-olds questioned, up from 29% last year, said poor pay was the reason they would not entertain teaching as a profession. Pay was even more important for older pupils.

Boys the most negative

More than half (57%) gave stress as the main reason and 45% said the main disincentive was a lack of respect for teachers.

More than three quarters of male pupils (79%) were less likely than females to consider entering the profession.

Peter Smith said the survey findings were bad news for the government.

"Children miss nothing," he said. "Not even Tony Blair and David Blunkett can fool them into thinking teaching is for them.

"What is really worrying is that hardly any boys see teaching as a possible career. Their verdict is overwhelming; too much stress, too little pay."

  • For the survey, Mori interviewed about 3,500 pupils in a representative sample of secondary schools in England and Wales in January and February.
  • See also:

    09 Mar 99 | Green Paper
    26 Mar 99 | Green Paper
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