In the U.K. Teacher Workload is Forcing Teachers to Leave the Profession

In the U.S. the “teacher dropout rate” is higher than the student dropout rate.  Forty-six (46) percent of teachers leave the profession  within five years. The Guardian, an English newspaper reported that the same problem exists in the U.K. – although not as severe.

“New educators say they don’t have a good work-life balance and 25% think they will quit in their first five years. Almost three quarters (73%) of trainee and newly qualified teachers  have considered leaving the profession, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Heavy workloads are wreaking havoc among new recruits as 76% of respondents cited this as the main reason they considered quitting. Almost eight in 10 (79%) of the 889 students and newly qualified teachers  surveyed by the union said they did not feel that they had a good work-life balance and the amount of work they were expected to do was the most common reason for disliking their jobs. Other factors that made those starting out in teaching think about a change of career included “teacher bashing” in the press and a lack of respect for profession (30%). Around 26% blamed an increasing expectation to take part in out-of hours activities for their reservations. When asked about out-of hours work, almost half (46%) said they work between six and 10 hours at the weekend during term time, while 28% work more than 10 hours. Just 2% did no work at all at this time.

Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, was not surprised by the research results: “Teachers do not enter the profession expecting to work 9 to 5, but the fact is workloads are spiraling out of control. This is having a devastating impact not only on teachers’ mental and physical health but also on their ability to teach.”

Of those surveyed, 25% said challenging pupil behavior was the reason they had considered leaving – it came fifth in a list of 18 options.

In the ATL’s most recent survey, by comparison, 25% of young recruits said they didn’t think they would still be teaching in five years’ time, although this figure more than doubled to 53% when the time frame was extended to 10 years.

Stanley said: “Finding a balance between maintaining and driving up standards while supporting teachers is in the best interest of children, parents, governors and school leaders. Health and well being matters are not soft options but have a direct impact on the culture of a school, recruitment and retention of staff and student outcomes.”

“There is too much demanded – often on pain of failure or censure – on young teachers who are still learning the craft. They should be allowed time and tolerance to think creatively, make mistakes and learn from them. We encourage this for our pupils – student teachers and newly qualified teachers should be able to do the same. Just because you raise demands and expectations does not mean you raise standards.”

Where will the new teachers come from?  Who will teach our children?