Workload and policy changes trigger teachers' decisions to quit

But low pay is also an important factor for younger teachers who decide to leave the profession, DfE research shows

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Workload is the most important factor in teachers' decisions to leave the profession, an analysis published by the Department for Education has found.

A survey of 1,023 ex-teachers commissioned by the DfE has found that 75 per cent cited workload as the reason they quit the profession.

Change in policy or initiatives by the government was the second biggest cause, and feeling undervalued by their leadership team was the third.

In contrast, earning a higher salary elsewhere was cited by 17 per cent.

When asked about how they made the decision to leave, 61 per cent said there was a single tipping point that had triggered their departure, with 55 per cent saying that they did not leave for a higher paid job.

But the analysis found that when split by age, pay was a much larger factor for younger teachers.

Low pay 'a key obstacle'

The OECD warned yesterday that relatively low pay was becoming a “key obstacle” to attracting young people into teaching, compared to similar graduate professions. 

But the DfE analysis, which it describes as “experimental” because it is not based on individual pay data, calculates that there was a 3.9 per cent average pay rise (£1,500) for individuals who were in service in 2014-15 and 2015-16, once promotions and responsibility allowances are included.

It added the change in the overall pay bill has dropped because those teachers who leave are, on average, older and higher-paid teachers, while those who join are, on average, younger and lower paid teachers – meaning average teacher pay has fallen.

The analysis came after a new report on teacher recruitment and retention released earlier this week by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the vast majority of secondary school heads felt the government was failing to help them with high-quality teacher recruitment and also said that workload was the biggest barrier to teacher retention.

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