Hope for recruiters

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
For prospective teachers, friendly colleagues are a higher priority than the size of their first wage packet, reports Alison Brace.

Friendly colleagues and intellectual challenges are more important than a good starting salary for young people considering a teaching career, according to new research.

The study by researchers at the University of East Anglia gives some hope to recruiters. Although only 7 per cent of sixth-formers questioned intended to become teachers; a further 20 per cent were considering doing so.

Among undergraduates, 10 per cent intended to become teachers and a further 20 per cent were thinking about it.

"Our study shows that there is a lot to play for in terms of attracting young people to the profession," said Terry Haydn of the university's school of education, which conducted the research .

"A lot of people we interviewed may not be committed to the idea of teaching, but many are thinking about it," he added.

Teaching was viewed by many as being interesting and about teamwork, but was thought to be difficult, poorly-paid and to have low status. Job security was also found to be an important factor when youngsters were considering a career in teaching, as was the scope for creativity.

Mr Haydn and colleagues Anne Cockburn and Ann Oliver interviewed more than 1,600 sixth-formers from 25 secondaries and 367 thirdyear undergraduates from nine universities.

Their study - presented to the British Psychological Society's London conference at the Institute of Education this week - comes amid a teacher recruitment crisis.

A pound;7 million advertising campaign, pound;6,000 training salaries and "golden hellos" in shortage subjects such as maths are just some of the Government strategies in place to attract new staff.

The UEA team found that the training salary would be a strong incentive for almost two-thirds of those thinking about teaching.

"Pay was considered important," said Mr Haydn. "But high potential earnings were substantially more important than starting salary."

Some 16 per cent of respondents said they would be put off choosing teaching because of the pay; 10 per cent were discouraged by the need to control difficult pupils.

There was a strong correlation between youngsters' views and what teachers are saying about stress, dealing with awkward pupils and the paperwork burden.

Of the 123 school-leavers intent on a career in teaching, 67 per cent had eight or more GCSEs at grade C or above. Of 291 still thinking about it, 72 per cent had similar qualifications compared with 76 per cent of the 445 who had considered teaching and rejected it.

"Luring young graduates into teaching", British Psychological Society, telephone 0116 252 9500

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