Between 40 to 50 percent of 1,200 U.K. teachers participating in a survey say they left or considered leaving the profession within the first ten years. This despite the majority of respondents (75 percent) viewing teaching as a long-term career.
Graduates from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education were asked what originally motivated them to teach, and the reasons why they left the profession or may consider leaving.
The main reasons for wanting to teach were to “make a difference” (69 percent), to work with young people (64 percent), and love of subject (50 percent). However, once they started teaching, the reality of daily life as a teacher dulled their enthusiasm, the findings show.
Respondents say the two main reasons for leaving (or considering leaving) are the workload and wanting better work/life balance. Importantly, they emphasize the nature, not the quantity, of the workload, with its emphasis on accountability and performance, as the crucial factor in deciding to leave.
For those who did leave, the reasons given were to improve work/life balance (75 percent), workload (71 percent), and target-driven culture (57 percent). Despite claiming to be aware of the challenges of workload before entering teaching, survey respondents found the reality of teaching worse than expected, with their work increasingly focused on assessment, exams, progress measures and preparation for review and inspection, and away from the more individualistic and creative aspects of the job.
“It’s not as if they weren’t aware that teaching was going to be demanding. However, they feel that the demands of the job outstrip their capacity to adapt,” the authors said. “This raises the questions: what can be done to arrest this trend?
“The general response from government is that teaching will be improved by reducing workload, removing unnecessary tasks and increasing pay. This may help, and our study does continue the discourse that workload is key.
“However, it also indicates that part of the problem lies within the culture of teaching, the constant scrutiny, the need to perform, and hyper-critical management. Reducing workload will not address these cultural issues.”
The findings are published in the British Journal of Educational Studies.
Source: Taylor & Francis Group