Matthew MacIver spoke after a major poll of 70,000 teachers south of the border appeared to suggest that more than a third planned to quit within the next five years.
The survey by MORI, for the General Teaching Council for England and the Guardian, indicated that 35 per cent believed they would not be teaching in five years' time - but half of those are due to retire anyway.
Workload was cited as the major disillusioning factor for teachers quitting the profession.
Carol Adams, chief executive of the GTC in England, said: "It shows we are hopeless at retention. We spend all this money getting them in and we are not thinking about how we keep them.
"Everybody is overwhelmed by paperwork and bureaucracy and targets. Young teachers are not being given the chance to explore their professionalism."
Mr MacIver took a more upbeat view, however, pointing out that there was still a "very healthy" interest in teaching in Scotland, with between eight and 10 applications for each place at a teacher education institution.
He also suggested Scotland is addressing the problems of recruiting and retaining teachers through the induction scheme for newly-qualified teachers and the chartered teacher programme.
Mr MacIver said he was also encouraged because more mature entrants were attracted to teaching as a career; the GTC's recent analysis of 2,286 probationers on the one-year induction course revealed that 42 per cent of the primary group and 50 per cent of those in secondary are aged over 30 (TESS, December 13).
The latest statistics from the Scottish Executive show that the numbers leaving local authority employment in the five years to 2001 actually decreased from 7 per cent to 4 per cent; only Inverclyde showed a rise, from 1 per cent to 4 per cent.