More evidence that workload is driving the teacher recruitment and retention crisis

4th April 2016 at 00:30
More evidence that the rising workload is driving teachers away from the profession and exacerbating the recruitment crisis was released today.

More than eight in 10 teachers have considered leaving the profession – with an overwhelming majority looking to exit because of workload, a new poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has found.

And almost a quarter (24 per cent) of teachers do not envisage staying in teaching any longer than two years, according to the survey of more than 875 education staff.

The research follows a much bigger survey of 13,000 teachers revealed exclusively by TES on Friday, which found that 74 per cent had seriously thought about quitting the profession in the last year. The NASUWT survey, verified by the polling company ComRes, also revealed found that workload was the top concern cited by 90 per cent of respondents.  

The new ATL research has found that 83 per cent of teachers have considered leaving the profession and almost nine in 10 of those said that this was due to workload.

It is being published on the first day of the ATL’s annual conference in Liverpool, and shows that more than 90 per cent of teachers believe workload and poor work/life balance are putting people off entering the profession.

A head of department in a primary school in Merseyside, who was surveyed, said: “In 23 years of teaching I have never felt so pressured and unable to achieve, both in terms of my work and family life. I worry greatly about the mental health of everyone involved in education… both teachers and children.”

Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) have said that a lack of respect for the profession could be stopping people from becoming teacher and that pay is a primary factor for teacher shortages.

A head of Key Stage 1 at a primary school in London said: “My partner is a solicitor in the City. I shouldn’t feel like I have less free time than him – he is on three times my pay.”

Almost half of the education staff who have considered quitting said bureaucratic demands were also driving them away, meanwhile 44 per cent cited the impact of government policy changes

ATL general secretary, Mary Bousted, said: “The situation is becoming a vicious circle – the abysmal work/life balance puts people off and then teacher shortages contribute to an unmanageable workload, making more teachers want to leave.

“There has to be a serious attempt to reduce teacher workload and to treat teachers as professionals, with the respect and salaries they deserve. The government has to accept we are facing a crisis and put credible measures in place that will produce systemic change.”

The impact of workload and the recruitment crisis on education staff will be discussed at the ATL’s annual conference this morning. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “No one is more determined to raise the status of teachers than this government and we want to work constructively with the sector and unions to do so.

"Our White Paper includes a range of reforms to recognise teaching as the high-skilled, high-status profession it is.

"Despite claims to the contrary teaching remains hugely popular, with UCAS figures showing a rise in teacher training applications and acceptances and over a thousand more graduates training to teach secondary subjects compared to last year.

“We will always listen to the concerns of the sector and only last week accepted in full the recommendations of three sector-led groups on workload that will help schools bring about real change, such as drastically cutting down the data they collect and ending the duplication of tasks, so that teachers can focus on what matters most – teaching.”

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