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Labour: Decade of Conservative neglect is driving teachers out of classrooms

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, speaking at the International Skills Summit

@UKLabour: A decade of Conservative neglect is driving teachers out of classrooms, Labour analysis has revealed, as the Party warns this could harm children’s pandemic recovery. @KateGreenSU and @PaulWhiteman6 comment. 

Labour analysis of Government workforce data shows that newly qualified teachers are more likely to leave the profession in the most recent data, compared to 2011:

  • After just a year in the job, teachers are 25% more likely to leave the profession;
  • After three years, teachers are 17% more likely to have left the profession.

At the same time the number of teacher vacancies has almost tripled since 2011, with nearly 1,000 teaching posts currently unfilled. Teachers are also responsible for more pupils than they were a decade ago with higher pupil to teacher ratios meaning a secondary school of 1,000 pupils would have seven fewer teachers now than at the beginning of the decade. 

Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, is warning this could slow children’s educational recovery from the pandemic with teachers having less time to focus on each child’s needs. 

Over the last decade Conservative pay freezes have seen teachers’ salaries fall £4,000 in real terms. Rishi Sunak’s latest pay freeze will hit 94% of teachers even while they have completed thousands of additional hours to support schools through the Covid crisis. 

Recent surveys from the National Association of Headteachers and the National Education Union show teachers have put in thousands of extra hours over the last year to manage track and trace within their school community while the Government’s replacement for exams creating an extra 12 hours of work a week, on average. 

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: 

“Teachers have experienced a decade of neglect under Conservative governments which is driving them out of classrooms. 

“Ensuring every child can bounce back from the pandemic should be a top priority but the government has said nothing about the workforce that will deliver the additional support and enhanced offer children need. 

“Our dedicated teachers and school leaders have worked incredibly hard to support children and families through the pandemic. We must now recognise their invaluable contribution if we are to deliver the promise of a bright future for every child.”

Commenting on new Labour analysis of Government workforce data showing that newly qualified teachers are more likely to leave the profession compared to 2011, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“These figures are the result of the government’s longstanding complacency on workload, pay and well-being.

“Even before the pandemic it was widely acknowledged that teachers and school leaders’ working hours had reached unsustainable levels. During the pandemic, their working week has got longer still.

“A recent NAHT survey found that the top words school leaders would use to describe their experiences over the last year are ‘challenging, exhausting and stressful’. Nearly half (47%) were considering leaving the profession sooner than originally planned.

“The government’s only response has been to announce yet another pay freeze which will again cut salaries in real terms.

“To meet the challenge of recovery post-Covid we need great teachers and leaders in all schools for all children. The government has said that no child should be left behind. Investing in education and the teaching profession is the best way to keep that promise.”

  • Figures from the Labour Party on teacher retention rates show the over the last decade:
    • Percentage of annual intake not remaining in the profession after 1 year: 2011: 12% to 2018: 15%
    • Percentage of annual intake not remaining in the profession after 3 years: 2011: 23% to 2016: 27%

Source: 2014 – 2019 data: School workforce in England: November 2019 https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/school-workforce-in-england

Source: pre- 2014 data: School workforce in England: November 2015 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/533530/SFR21_2016_Tables.xlsx 

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