Teacher retention problems are exaggerated, claim employers

6 Feb 03
Local government employers this week attempted to play down the impending 'crisis' caused by rising numbers of teachers seeking to leave the profession.

07 February 2003

Responding to a General Teaching Council survey that suggested one in six teachers will quit within five years because of excessive workloads and targets, the Employers' Organisation published its annual report on resignations and recruitment across local education authorities.

The EO, which represents local authorities, said that just 5% (2,100) of LEA teachers who left their jobs in 2001 actually moved out of the profession.

Its report – Crisis? What crisis? – said that while around 38,000 teachers left the LEA sector in 2001, 28,000 of these secured other teaching jobs, for example, in independent schools. More than 6,200 teachers retired, the EO said.

The annual turnover of LEA teachers is now lower than the figure for local government staff (13.3% compared with 13.85% respectively), the report claimed, while turnover was highest for teachers aged 25–29.

Mike Walker, the EO's director of negotiations, told Public Finance that the study showed there was 'absolutely no evidence to suggest a future exodus of LEA teaching personnel, as suggested by the GTC'.

He said teaching figures were 'healthy' when placed in the context of the 42,000 teachers recruited last year. And schools minister David Miliband said the EO's results 'confirm positive trends in teacher recruitment and retention'.

The EO did, however, raise concerns about the high turnover of younger teachers.

Graham Lane, chair of the employers' education committee, said: 'We recommend shortening teachers' pay scale to accelerate younger teachers' pay progression and… the national agreement to reduce teachers' workload, which is recognised by the Audit Commission as one of the greatest influences on retention.'

But a spokeswoman for the General Teaching Council said the EO needed to pay more immediate attention to retention problems.

'One thing that must be addressed quickly by all education bodies, including councils, is the policies pursued to retain staff. Our study confirmed teachers' escalating frustrations with the industry and many have considered leaving in future.'


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