Two in five new teachers quit within a year, union warns

31st March 2015 at 12:57

Almost two-fifths of teachers drop out within a year after finishing their training, as “bright-eyed” trainees realise teaching is “no career to enter”, a conference has heard.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, told the organisation's annual conference in Liverpool today that almost 11,000 qualified teachers had never entered the profession.

According to the ATL's analysis of government figures, in 2011, around 38 per cent of teachers were not in teaching a year after gaining qualified teaching status (QTS) – either never entering the profession in the first place or leaving after just 12 months. This compared to 20 per cent in 2005.

The ATL’s analysis found the number failing to take up a teaching post had almost trebled in the past six years. The figures show that 10,800 of those who qualified in 2011 did not go into teaching, compared to 3,600 in 2005.

“Why are we losing the next generation of teachers, that new blood for the profession which should be bright-eyed and bushy tailed, full of promise and ambition?” she said.

“Is it, I wonder, because trainee and newly qualified teachers see very early on just what teaching has become and decide that they do not want to be a part of it? Is it that they learn as they work with exhausted and stressed colleagues that teaching has become a profession which is incompatible with a normal life?”

During her speech Dr Bousted said Ofsted was “beset with internal and external cracks” and suffered a “credibility chasm”, with teachers having little confidence in inspection teams.

She said inspections should instead be carried out by locally-based teams made up of teachers and school leaders. These inspections would be “targeted at those curriculum areas which need improvement”, she said.

Dr Bousted said that under this system a national agency would “guard against cosy consensus” and intervene if such a consensus developed.

She launched an attack on the qualifications agency Ofqual, claiming it was staffed by “fundamentalists” who “worship the exam”.

“Ofqual is a seeker of certainty,” she said. “Certainty that the timed written exam can assess a subject’s core knowledge, certainty that the grades awarded by exam boards are accurate and reliable, certainty that written exams can assess practical skills such as speaking and listening in English, or laboratory work in science.”

She said a “tsunami” of curriculum and qualification changes “threatens to engulf schools and colleges as Ofqual marches on, leaving dismay and devastation in its wake.”

Dr Bousted used her speech to call for greater accountability for schools, warning that the academies programme had reduced oversight and left “too many schools unsupported and in free-fall”.

She cited a report by the Public Accounts Committee, published last month, which found that 18 academy chains had been prevented from expanding further because of the concerns about the standards in those schools.

“In essence, our education system is being run on a wing and a prayer – and if something goes badly wrong, the government relies upon someone being brave enough to speak out. Who knows what else is going on under the radar?” she said.

“Our education system is crying out for a middle tier – a locally based, democratically accountable body which provides oversight and support to schools and gives parents and pupils a place to go when they have issues or concerns, in particular concerns about school admissions and school standards,” she said. 

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