Over half of primary teachers in their second year in profession are thinking of quitting, dissatisfaction worse than for new entrants, new research shows

Despite the Government’s proposals to tackle teacher recruitment and retention, new research shows that it still has its work cut out to keep young teachers in the profession. And while NQTs (newly qualified teachers) are often thought to be most at risk of quitting, new figures show that even more of those in their second year have their eyes on the exit.

In January, Education Secretary Damian Hinds published a strategy to attract more teachers and address the high number quitting the profession, citing workload as the key reason.

Between 2016 and 2017, the rate of new entrants to the teaching profession actually declined.

In England, the number of pupils in our schools is set to rise by about 500,000 over the next five or six years and unless more people can be tempted to join the teaching profession, and stay in it, it is hard to see how schools will cope.

There is now a shortfall of 30,000 teachers in the teaching workforce as a whole. 

But according to new research by education experts PlanBee, while nearly half (45 percent) of NQTs in primary schools are considering quitting, the figure rises to 57 percent for those one stage further on in their careers, RQTs (Recently Qualified Teachers).

One in six teachers identified lesson-planning as one of the most onerous parts of their workload.

While 38 percent of NQTs cited planning as their number one bugbear, the figure was even higher – 43 percent – for RQTs.

In the survey of nearly 300 teachers carried out by leading education resources company PlanBee, marking also appeared at the top of the list of concerns, with 15 percent devoting 10-12 hours a week to it.

When asked for their reasons for considering leaving the profession, one NQT commented: ‘It’s a profession in which the demands and expectations are exceptional yet, yet the societal negativity and dismissiveness is relentless. Not a great combination, really.’

RQTs reported already feeling workload stress, having to take work home and regretting the impact on family life.

One teacher who had been teaching less than three years said: ‘If you’re a teacher and have never thought this [considering leaving], then I don’t believe that person is doing an outstanding job. The amount that this job requires is unimaginable. I spend hours on end planning. Every day I work, even Saturday and Sunday.’

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A comment from a senior member of the profession summed up the frustration felt by almost all those who took part in the survey, stressing that they got huge satisfaction from teaching itself but were dragged down by the excessive workload: ‘I love being in the classroom and teaching. It is the planning, marking and recording that get me down.’

PlanBee Director Becky Cranham said: ‘Our survey should really set alarm bells ringing. One would hope that young teachers are becoming less overwhelmed by the demands of their career as time goes on, but this clearly isn’t the case. The Government needs to get its skates on when it comes to implementing proposals on workload reduction.’

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