4 Real Reasons Why We Are Losing Our Teachers

By Sam Southwell 

In recent years, there have been many changes to the way our primary schools are run. Many teachers find themselves working longer hours, teaching larger classes alongside a new curriculum and not receiving the support necessary for personal development and growth. The vast majority of teachers join the profession because they want to work with young people and make a difference in their lives. So why do we face a teacher shortage across the country?  Below are the top 4 most popular reasons as to why teachers are thinking about eaving the profession. Regardless of opinion, I think everyone can agree that support must be provided for our teachers to ensure they are able to succeed and flourish.

(Why Teach? LKMco, Pearson 19)

With more than half of teachers considering leaving the profession in the next two years, many would suggest we may face (or already do) a teaching crisis. This is scary stuff for a couple of reasons. The first being, that our teachers (who have a genuine desire to help and inspire future generations) are not happy with the current state of affairs.

Secondly, what will this mean for future generations if our current pupils do not have inspiring teachers to look up to? Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said: “The Government’s current priorities are both wrong and profoundly out of step with the views of teachers. They are the essential cause of the growing problems with teacher supply.”

Despite government assurances to the contrary, it's no exaggeration to say that teachers are leaving in their droves. Every other day a teacher writes an impassioned open letter to the education press. So why is this happening and why now?

1. High workload

Teachers are working up to 60 hours per week, with a vast majority citing that the long hours are having a negative effect on their personal lives. No surprise there. Wendy Liu, one of our Research Project Managers, who has over 15 years of teaching experience as a lead teacher in ICT as well as an Assistant Headteacher, is not surprised either. “There is a constant demand from the government which is always changing. OFSTED are always looking for something different which leaves many teachers frustrated and confused. These demands are always changing and many teachers are left wondering what to focus on?!”

2. Work vs personal life balance

Having the right balance between your work and a personal life is important in any job. Finding that balance is something that many people struggle with, in various industries. Many assume that a teacher’s day is over at 3pm, which couldn’t be further from the truth. From planning to assessment, many teachers find themselves working into the early hours of the night. Sean Reid, a PGCE tutor for the University of Buckingham, argued that getting the right amount of sleep is important. It is commonly known that adults need eight hours of sleep to perform at their best which can be challenging when you have piles of marking to get through. It is not unprofessional to have a life and teachers need to remember that.

3. Lack of leadership

According to a survey, carried about by YouGov and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), two thirds of teachers believe that morale has declined in the past five years, while just one in ten feel it has improved. Without strong leadership available to young teachers, it is no surprise that morale is at all time low. Constanca Santos, head of Talent at Third Space Learning, speaks with teachers from all over the UK on a daily basis. She comments that teachers often tell her “there is too much bureaucracy and administrative tasks that take away the joys of teaching." She often hears from teachers that the moment when a pupil suddenly understands a new concept is what makes it all worth it for them. But the growing amount of time spent doing paperwork is a real threat to the future of teaching.

4. Insufficient pay

Ask any teacher why they decided to go into teaching and it will soon become clear that it was absolutely not for the money. Ask any teacher why they decided to go into teaching and it will soon become clear that it was absolutely not for the money. However, teachers need to be supported and appreciated for the great work they do in schools every single day, and it is imperative that their pay reflects this too. It remains to be seen whether  the introduction of performance related pay (PRP) will help matters.

The NUT/YouGov survey shows that:
  • 67% of teachers are not in favour of PRP for teachers.

  • Of those not in favour, 84% believe it is “not practicable” to match an individual teachers’ contribution to student outcomes.

Teachers need to be supported and appreciated for the great work they do in schools every single day, as it is imperative that their pay reflects this too. With a growing shortage of teachers, what are your thoughts on how we can support our teachers?

Further reading

Half of all teachers could leave the profession in two years (The Telegraph)

NUT / YouGov Survey on Government Education Policy (NUT)

Tips for teacher worklife balance (The Guardian)

Dear Nicky Morgan, I'm quitting as a teacher (Independent)


 

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