Bad behaviour drives out new teachers

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Two in five NQTs desert the classroom because of workload and pupils' indiscipline, GTC survey finds

Two in five NQTs desert the classroom because of workload and pupils' indiscipline, GTC survey finds

The first major survey into why huge numbers of new teachers quit the profession has revealed that they are driven out by badly behaved pupils and heavy workloads.

The findings of the General Teaching Council for England's study come ahead of new government proposals, to be unveiled next week, into dealing with difficult pupils and their combative parents.

The study's authors have called for a new recruitment campaign: not to woo teacher trainees, but to win back the affections of those who have left, disillusioned.

Up to pound;68 million is spent each year by the Government on training teachers who do not stay in the profession, according to estimates of funding.

The study found that 60 per cent of those teachers who quit the profession within the first two years were embarking on careers outside education, attracted by the higher pay and lighter workload of their new jobs. Others wanted to spend more time with their families.

The GTC, which commissioned the six-year Becoming a Teacher research study from 2003, said novices needed support - including in behaviour management - or they would leave the profession.

Keith Bartley, GTC chief executive, said a significant number of newly qualified teachers were choosing to leave after a short time, or not enter the classroom at all.

"I don't want anyone to leave because they are burnt out or demoralised," he said.

"What is important to us is that every teacher who leaves the profession feels positive about teaching and sees returning to the profession in the future as a possibility."

The Training and Development Agency for Schools is to consider the call for a new recruitment campaign. The agency already funds courses, which deal with behaviour management, for teachers who want to return to the profession.

Dr Pamela Robinson, a senior education researcher at the University of Buckingham, said pupil behaviour was driving out teachers to an unprecedented extent.

"Schools are merely reflecting what is going on in the streets outside," she said. "It's a significant concern, and means there's a greater need for good school leaders than ever before."

Ministers have acknowledged the problem. Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, has told of parents who storm into school to demand that their badly-behaved child be let off detention.

Next week he is to publish advice from Sir Alan Steer, a respected headteacher, against allowing these parents' complaints to undermine a school's authority.

Sir Alan is also expected to recommend parent support advisers in most schools to work with the more difficult parents.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, insisted there had never been a better time to become a teacher, with an improvement in behaviour across the sector.

"Teaching is a challenging but deeply rewarding role, though we recognise that more needs to be done," he said. "We continue to talk to experts on the front line to learn how we can improve conditions."

Andrew Hobson, associate professor of education at the University of Nottingham and principal investigator for the GTC study, said some new teachers were driven out by bad experiences in their first job.

"If they come back to a different school and have a more positive experience, it is possible that they could be perfectly happy in the profession for many years to come," he said.

Dealing with drunks, page 8; Leading article, page 28.

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