One in three teachers leaves within five years

The government 'must act with a greater sense of urgency' to stop teachers quitting the profession, says union leader

Teacher retention: Almost one in three teachers quits the profession within five years, new figures show

Almost one in three teachers leave the classroom within five years of starting teaching, new statistics show.

And teachers are now more likely to drop out after their first year in the classroom than at any time since 1997.

Statistics published by the Department for Education today show that more than one in six (15.3 per cent) of the teachers who qualified in 2017 dropped out after just one year of teaching.


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The retention rate of 84.7 per cent – the percentage of teachers who were still teaching in state schools a year after qualifying – is lower than the 85.1 per cent recorded in the previous year.

And the statistics also show that the number of teachers who stay for five years has dropped.

Just 67.7 per cent of those teachers who qualified in 2013 were still teaching in 2018.

Again, this is a fall from last year’s figures, which revealed that 68.5 per cent of teachers were still in state schools after five years.

“It means that we are losing a third of our teachers within five years of them qualifying,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

Teacher retention problems

“This rate of attrition is far too high and is a major factor in the severe shortage of teachers being experienced across the country.”

The report notes that the retention figures before 2010 are from a different database than those from 2010 onwards, meaning that data may not be comparable.

The figures for teachers who qualified in 1996 show that 91 per cent were still teaching a year later, and 87.6 per cent of those who qualified in 2009 were still teaching a year later.

Of those teachers who qualified in 2010, 86.5 per cent were still teaching a year later.

The statistics published today also reveal that there are fewer secondary teachers in England than at any point since 2010.

But rises in the number of teachers who are centrally employed or working in primary or special schools mean the overall number of full-time equivalent teachers has risen to 453,411.

Mr Barton said: “We are pleased that the government has recognised the need to do more in its recent teacher recruitment and retention strategy. But it must act with a greater sense of urgency.

“The government must improve the level of funding to schools and it must fully fund a decent pay rise for teachers.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: “Teachers and parents will be looking for urgent and effective action from the government to enable schools to recruit and retain the teachers we need. That means additional resources to reverse the real-terms cuts to school funding. It also means reversing the pay cuts that have hit those working in education and reducing the excessive hours worked by teachers and other school staff."

Nick Gibb, schools minister, said: “We do recognise there is more to do to continue to attract and retain talented individuals in our classrooms, which is why we launched the first-ever teacher recruitment and retention strategy earlier this year.

"This landmark strategy included the biggest teaching reform in a generation – the Early Career Framework – providing the solid foundations for a successful career in teaching, backed by at least £130 million a year in extra funding when fully rolled out.”

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