Not our life's work, say half of new recruits

NEW teachers are enthusiastic about the job, but most are unsure just how long they will stay given the workload and bureaucracy.

A new survey of 334 postgraduate students at Exeter university shows the vast majority plan to teach, and 92 per cent intend to start full-time teaching jobs this summer or autumn.

Only just over a third expect to be teaching after 10 years, while most (47 per cent) are not sure how long they will last. Just under one in 10 plans to spend no more than five years in the profession.

Government initiatives aimed at attracting recruits to teaching seem to be having an effect. Around 35 per cent said they would not have started PGCE courses without the pound;6,000 training bursary, introduced in September 2000.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said the bursaries had reversed an eight-year fall in recruitment; teacher-training applications are 13.7 per cent up on last year.

Professor Ted Wragg, who carried out the Exeter survey with Dr Caroline Wragg, said student comments showed just under half were concerned about "eternal paperwork", a quarter with workload and long hours, and a fifth worried about poor salaries.

"The job is as attractive as ever to people who want to work with children. But these highly motivated people, who know what they are taking on in the paperwork and conditions, are not prepared to see it as their career for more than 10 years. If two-thirds leave within a decade, you have got to find even more recruits."

A National Union of Teachers survey carried out last year found more than half of NQTs quit within three years.

NUT assistant secretary John Bangs said: "The big issue is, once you meet the realities of the classroom, are you going to stay? We are on a cusp, with everything to play for to retain those teachers and keep that commitment."

One student quoted in the survey joked that without the bursary it would have been necessary to have "sold an organ or two".

ONE COUPLE'S EXPERIENCE

HUSBAND and wife Darren and Emma Bowyer-Warner could not have considered a joint career change to teaching without the pound;6,000 training bursaries each received.

Before they started PGCE courses at Manchester Metropolitan University, Darren was a countryside warden. Emma, 31, gave up a pound;17,000-a-year job as an English lecturer in further education.

She is now working as an English and media teacher at Turton high school, Bolton, and has no regrets about the career change.

But she says: "There is no way, financially, I would have been able to do the course without the training bursary. The money was crucial."

Darren, 30, who trained in drama and now works in a Blackburn secondary, added: "I have no idea how people managed before bursaries."

Even with pound;6,000 each, they both have four-figure bank overdrafts and student loan debts to repay.

Despite the financial sacrifices they have made to become teachers, neither is sure how long they will stay in their new profession. Pupil behaviour, paperwork and workload could "dampen their spirits", they fear.

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