Why are teachers leaving schools and what can we do to help?

On 30th March 2015, the Department for Education released figures that show that almost 40% of newly qualified teachers quit the classroom within their first year of teaching.

So what’s happening in schools and classrooms to drive qualified teachers away from our children and towards completely different career paths?

In my experience, the answer lies in the word support.
Support from schools, support from governments and support in finding the right place to actually start a career in teaching.

Department of Education data has shown that the number of teachers who complete their teacher training but never enter the profession has tripled in six years - from 3,600 in 2006 to 10,800 in 2011.

So what exactly seems to be putting these newly qualified professionals off of teaching?

Rachael Pells, a columnist for The Independent, believes that there are a few usual suspects that could be causing teachers to quit in their first year.

Pressure to deliver A-C grades

Most teachers want to focus on instilling a love of learning in their students, not adopting a results-only focus towards education. Yes, grades matter but students should above all else be excited by what their teacher is teaching and feel engaged, not burdened by pressure from schools desperate to secure the best grades in the borough.

Long working hours

Marking, marking and more marking… many teachers complain of having to work 50-60 hours per week to keep on top of everything. And that’s a big ask.

Lack of available jobs

Supply teaching is a great way into the profession and can often lead to a permanent teaching position. I’ve found that more and more newly qualified teachers are consciously choosing this career path for the variety it offers.

"supply teaching is a great way into the profession and can often lead to a permanent teaching position"

The profession is becoming over-regulated

Ofsted has been accused of micromanagement and former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, stated before the 2010 election that “teaching has [sic] become a profession monitored to within an inch of its life".

He also stated that he wanted to “give teachers more freedom to teach”.
The need to empower head teachers to take the lead on professional development, decision making, and target setting has been deliberated for several years now.

But with only 62% of teachers documented as ‘still in teaching’ within a year of gaining their Qualified Teacher Status, it seems that many of the above deterrents remain unaddressed and unresolved. 

How to make sure we ‘do our bit’

Supportive schools will help to combat the dropout rate, and so will improving the perceptions of a career in teaching.

Because despite what the press says, it’s not all bad.

Jenny Rollinson

Managing Director, Randstad Education