Three-quarters of trainee, student and newly qualified teachers have already considered leaving the profession, a survey reveals.
Among almost 900 teachers embarking on their classroom careers who were questioned by the ATL teaching union, 73 per cent admitted having thought about quitting.
Of these, three-quarters (76 per cent) said that high workload was the reason, while 26 per cent blamed the expectation to take part in activities outside school hours.
Thirty per cent said they had considered quitting because of “teacher bashing” in the press and a lack of respect for the profession, while a quarter said challenging pupil behaviour had made them consider leaving.
Over half (54 per cent) of the teachers surveyed said they did not think they would still be teaching in 10 years’ time; 24 per cent said they expected to leave within the next five years.
Workload was also the most disliked aspect of the profession, cited to by 87 per cent of respondents.
A trainee teacher in his third year at a primary school in Bedfordshire said: “My peers and I are often told to be prepared to be disappointed, stressed, and to quit. There is very little positivity in the profession at the moment. Teachers feel undermined and unappreciated.”
An NQT at a primary school said: “I saw this as a vocation, a lifelong dream following a successful, non-teaching career elsewhere. I now have no time to spend with family or even speak to them. I can't sleep, have no social life but still love ‘teaching’; it's the rest of it that's unbearable.”
ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “New teachers, like their more experienced colleagues, are enthusiastic and caring professionals who want time to do their job well and have a reasonable work-life balance. It’s incredibly sad to hear that so many are already disillusioned so early on in their careers, but it is understandable given the pressure and stress of a high workload.
“Unless the government makes changes to address teachers’ workloads, we fear thousands of great teachers will leave the profession.”
A record 44,000 teachers responded to the Department for Education's Workload Challenge, which was launched in October to help ministers understand why England’s teachers have some of the longest working weeks in the developed world. In response, the DfE has said it intends to publish an “action plan” this month.
A DfE spokesperson said: “Teaching continues to be a hugely popular career with more teachers in England’s classrooms than ever before. We want to attract the best and brightest graduates into the teaching – and keep them there. Our statistics show that three-quarters of teachers were still in their post five years after qualifying.
“However, we recognise the issues our hard-working teachers face. The secretary of state has made clear to the teaching unions our commitment to working with them to help reduce unnecessarily high workloads, caused by needless bureaucracy. We also announced our support for a new independent College of Teaching – a new organisation being developed by teachers for teachers to champion high standards in the profession.”
Workload action plan to be published in just six weeks – December 2014