Teachers being driven away by ‘impossible’ workloads

25 Feb 19

Impossible workloads and underfunded pay deals have created a “crisis” in teacher recruitment and retention in England, a union has warned.

A report out today by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NEFR), found that an increasing number of teachers are leaving the profession, with 20% saying they feel tense about their jobs.

Responding to the findings of the annual report on the teaching workforce, the National Education Union said the reasons for retention issues are “not a mystery”.

NEFR’s report found that 41% of teachers are dissatisfied with the amount of leisure time they have, compared with 32% of ‘similar professionals’ – identified by the NEFR as scientists, researchers, engineers, IT professionals and health and nursing professionals.

It also found that teachers work longer hours in a typical working week, compared with those groups.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The NFER has made a welcome intervention in the ongoing crisis over teacher recruitment and retention. Today’s report echoes our own long-standing concerns about the anxieties faced by teachers.

“The reasons that so many leave the profession so quickly are not a mystery to us. When faced with impossible workloads, endless accountability, a testing culture run riot, and flat or underfunded pay deals year after year, it is all too common for good teachers to leave the profession.”

Bousted called on the government to address pay and workload issues in order to reverse the trend.

The NEU recently found that poor pay was causing 70% of teachers to consider leaving the profession.

Jack Worth, co-author of the NFER report, said: “Nurturing, supporting and valuing teachers is vital to making teaching an attractive and rewarding career choice. In order to do this, there is a clear need to improve the working conditions of teachers, with a focus on making the teaching career more manageable and sustainable.

“The proposed measures to address these issues in the Government’s new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy are welcome, but the teacher supply challenge will continue to grow, particularly in secondary schools, unless urgent action is taken.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

Education secretary Damian Hinds recently urged more schools to convert to academies.

Read Karen Day’s feature for PF on transparency in the academy sector.

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