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Exam results a factor in teacher resignations

Schools with poor GCSE results and a high proportion of pupils on free school meals are most likely to have problems retaining teachers, according to a report.

Schools that have received beacon or leading-edge status tend to have lower turnover and wastage.

The study, by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson of Liverpool university's centre for education and employment research, was a continuation of a study begun in 2002.

It found that there were fewer teacher resignations in 2003 than in 2002 due mainly to less primary movement where turnover of full-time teachers was down from 15.3 per cent to 13.6 per cent. In secondaries it fell from 13.1 to 12.8 per cent.

Wastage rates - where staff leave teaching altogether - remained unchanged at 9.2 and 7.2 per cent respectively.

The study looked at the 4,091 teachers who left their jobs in 898 primary and 346 middle and secondary schools, in 2003.

Almost 900 of those were staff who were leaving the profession. The biggest movement of staff was among younger teachers, and those approaching retirement.

About a quarter of under-30s either changed jobs or left teaching. Turnover among the over-50s was 12 per cent, most of whom retired. Turnover and wastage was higher among women than men, and greatest in London, the East and South-east than in other parts of the country.

However, about a quarter of those leaving primary schools thought it likely they would return to full-time teaching at some point, as did 16 per cent of those leaving secondary schools.

The study recommended that more should be done to reduce the loss of teachers through redundancy or non-renewal of fixed-term contracts.

Researchers also want to see schools encourage certain groups who have left to return, for example young people who are coming back from taking time off travelling, or mothers looking for flexible, part-time posts.

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