Fewer teachers resigned in 2002 than in any of the previous five years, according to a new survey by local government employers.
Figures collected from more than 7,000 schools and colleges show that the proportion of staff changing schools or quitting teaching altogether fell from 13.2 per cent in 2001 to 12.1 per cent last year.
The drop has been welcomed by ministers and employers. But it is still far higher than the 8.1 per cent a decade ago in 1992. The findings back up those of a government survey of 3,000 schools reported in The TES on June 27.
Last year 1,690 teachers resigned for jobs outside education, compared to 2,120 the previous year and 2,610 in 2000.
Moves to independent school and overseas teaching jobs were slightly more popular. Early retirement also increased but fewer teachers left as a result of ill health.
Information technology remained the subject with by far the biggest staffing problem. The situation also worsened in physics, history, social sciences and geography. Music had the second highest resignation rate.
New figures comparing retention rates on different training routes show those who learn on the job are more likely to stay, said Ralph Tabberer, chief of the Teacher Training Agency. Only around 5 per cent of trainees on the graduate teacher programme (GTP) drop out, compared to 11 per cent of postgraduate trainees, and up to 23 per cent of undergraduates.
But Mr Tabberer, who gave the figures to the Commons education select committee, insisted undergraduate courses were not under threat. "We don't have the option of going to just one route - this is a market where people want different things," he said.
The traditional four-year BEd has been declining in popularity because students miss out on the pound;6,000 training bursary paid to those on one-year postgraduate training courses. Several training providers have responded by dropping or cutting BEd provision and offering three-year degrees in, for example, early-years education, which then lead to a PGCE.
Applications this year for these education degrees are up nearly 17 per cent, while BEd numbers were up only 0.6 per cent, to 6,959.
Meanwhile, places for on-the-job training on the GTP are expected to rise from 3,700 last year to 6,000 by 2005-06, accounting for a fifth of all initial training places. This offers grants of up to pound;13,000 per student teacher towards a salary.
Peter Gilroy, chairman of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said that GTP trainees were bound to be more committed as they have often had to change career to teach.