Almost Half Of Teachers To Quit Within Five Years
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Almost Half Of Teachers To Quit Within Five Years

Ellen Knight April 14, 2022

Almost half of teachers will quit their profession within five years, according to a poll conducted by the National Education Union (NEU).

The survey involved 1,788 teachers, and revealed 44% of teachers plan to leave the profession within the next five years. It also revealed that 22% were intending to quit within the next two years.

Workload is too much

Heavy and ‘unmanageable’ workloads were major factor in the decision as over half of respondents (52%) agreed that the amount of work they were expected to do was overwhelming, nearly 20% more than in 2021.

65% of those who were set to leave within two years quoted this workload as a leading factor, as well as a lack of trust from both the public and the government – many also cited pay as something driving them to look for alternative jobs.

According to the Guardian, one respondent said they were ‘desperate to get out of education’ as a result of ‘workload, constant monitoring and paperwork.’

‘Everything is pared to the bone’

The poll suggested this was a vicious cycle; as teachers leave their jobs and schools struggle to fill these vacancies left behind, 73% said that this led their institutions to ‘double up’ roles.

One said: ‘people leave and then their responsibilities [are] added to another role.’ Other teachers described how ‘everything is pared to the bone.’

‘We have increased leadership responsibilities but our time to carry this out has been axed […] Classes are covered by teaching assistants on a regular basis, as if this is perfectly satisfactory.’

A Department for Education spokesperson told the Guardian: ‘We recognise the pressure that staff in schools and colleges have been under and are enormously grateful to them for their efforts, resilience, and service now and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession. The number of teachers in our schools remains high, with more than 461,000 teachers working in schools across the country – 20,000 more than in 2010.

‘We have taken and will continue to take action to improve teacher and leader workload and wellbeing, working proactively with the sector to understand the drivers behind such issues and improve our policies and interventions.’

‘This is simply unsustainable’

However, joint NEU general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said the Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and his predecessors have ‘failed to get a grip on the issues facing teachers.’

‘We remain a profession with amongst the highest number of unpaid working hours, and we are still well above the international average for hours worked by teachers. This is simply unsustainable and can only lead to burnout.’

Bousted said that the government had ‘played a starring role in many of the contributing factors’, driving teachers away.

She asserted that the Department for Education had to ‘right the ship’, as the number of teachers leaving begins to outnumber those joining the profession.

Bousted argued that this exodus was ‘to a very large extent because the job is made unattractive and unsustainable.’ She maintained, however, that teaching is a ‘great and fulfilling job’ that people take on because they hoped to make a difference in their students’ lives.

According to Bousted, though, ‘the government makes this more difficult’, and for teachers to be able to ‘collectively do the right thing for young people’, they must be physically and mentally able to deliver their education.

‘That change must come from the top,’ she added.

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Ellen is a freelance journalist studying MA Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University. Her work has appeared in publications such as Teen Vogue and Al Jazeera, and tends to focus on politics and current affairs. Her involvement in student radio station Burn FM lead to an interview she conducted winning Student Radio Moment of the Year in 2022. She has been writing for Freshered since February 2022. You can follow her on Twitter @ellenmjknight