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Headteacher? Not me - yet

The majority of teachers with less than five years service are wary about taking on management responsibilities, and many are already considering leaving the profession, a survey reveals.

Almost 9 out of 10 fairly new teachers (about 88 per cent) see their career development in terms of consolidating and improving their teaching skills, research by the General Teaching Council for England shows. Less than half (just 45 per cent) see themselves taking on management responsibilities as the next stage of their career. Only 4 per cent envisage becoming heads within five years.

More than 1 in 10 intend to quit teaching within five years; 13 per cent are contemplating working part-time.

"These figures are not as dire as they seem to be suggesting," says John Ashby, a research adviser for the GTC. "In the first four years, it is not surprising that teachers are still very focused on managing learning in the classroom and the day-to-day professional skills they need. It doesn't mean to say that they do not want management responsibilities, but it is often a year or two further down the line that they begin to think in those terms."

He adds: "It is common for young people in whatever career they are in to think in terms of taking a career break, perhaps to travel or to have a family."

The council sent out a 20-point questionnaire to 10,000 teachers earlier this year; more than 4,000 replied.

The survey shows that the most popular form of in-service training is collaborative learning with colleagues: 85 per cent have experienced this.

More than four out of five have also attended external courses.

The overwhelming majority agree that observing colleagues teach can be valuable both for the observer and for the observed, but 82 per cent say they would like more opportunity to observe lessons.

Of those surveyed, 65 per cent have approached their subject specialist associations. But just 23 per cent say they have been supported by a mentor or coach regularly in the previous 12 months. More than twice as many, however, had acted as mentor to other teachers during the same period.

A large majority (83 per cent) agree that their training needs had been met in the previous year, but the key area where early-career teachers feel they need more training and support is in motivating under-achieving pupils.

More than half want more training in thinking skills and in teaching gifted and talented pupils.

The survey also reveals teachers' belief that there are four important factors in making continuing professional development integral to the profession:

* an understanding of teachers' individual needs

* supply cover for training during teaching time

* support from senior managers,

* and access to high quality professional development activities within the education authority.

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