Nearly Half Of England’s Teachers Plan To Leave In Next Five Years
According to The Guardian, a survey has found that a high volume of teachers plan to leave state schools in record numbers. The survey discovered that 43% of state school teachers in England intend to step away from their professions in the upcoming five years. The research indicates that the complications of recruiting and retaining staff, which the government had previously described as groundless fear-mongering, was genuine, as 79% of schools stated they had difficulty attracting or keeping educators. Furthermore, 88% predicted that the situation would worsen, hence affecting the students severely, as teachers had already reached their wits’ end with the incessant curriculum and exam changes. The survey was carried out by the Guardian Teacher Network and Guardian Jobs, collecting 4,450 responses from teachers for analysis.
The findings were rather concerning, as 98% of educators stated that they were experiencing an increasing volume of pressure. 82% of survey participants declared that their workload was unmanageable, with some 73% saying that it was negatively impacting their physical health; 75% reported significant impacts on their mental health. According to the research, only 12% of teachers agreed that they had a good work-life balance, and just 33% had a positive sentiment that employers considered wellbeing. The situation had already escalated to a point where teachers had started fleeing to schools in the independent sectors and even those overseas, as the bureaucratic system of documenting student progress and staff performance, coupled with higher stress levels from having to satisfy the Ofsted inspectors, had already proven far too arduous for school teachers to bear.
The situation shows no signs of improvement as the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced plans which, according to teachers’ leaders, will worsen the retention and recruitment crisis in both academy and local authority schools. The government has proposed that schools close at 4.30 pm, with a £285m ($341m) budget allocated to a quarter of secondary schools for an extension of the school day based on the bidding system. The budget also included an inquiry on the plausibility of mathematics continuing to be studied until the age of 18.
Repeated changes in policies brought on by the government are the primary generators of workload, as teachers feel a constant pressure to collect and record more data for each pupil. Following this, the unrealistic pressure of being assessed against national data-based benchmarks for a pupil’s progress is the second greatest source. Teachers are frustrated by the oft-changing goal posts set by the government and feel it is counterproductive to push like in independent schools to get the same results, as the study reported that satisfaction and workloads were worse for essentially the same job.
The expectation of longer hours for teachers is insensitive, especially coming from a government that has already displayed its disdain for educators. Duncan Baldwin, a representative of the Association of School and College Leaders, hopes that the government’s reports will address the core issues that are plaguing teachers. According to Baldwin, an unprecedented number of reforms have been introduced that severely impact teachers. For example, primary school curriculum has undergone a complete overhaul, while secondary school teachers are struggling to keep up with the hasty changes to A-levels and GCSE. These changes have led teachers to spend more time redoing their curriculums and subject options.
In addition to these changes, new high-stakes accountability measures like Ofsted inspections have made teaching jobs even more stressful, causing many teachers to feel underpaid and overworked. The government’s suppression of teacher pay and budget cuts has only compounded the issue, prompting many teachers to leave the profession entirely.
Several teachers who left the state sector last year cited stress and workload as their main reasons for leaving. One such teacher, Michael Brownder, stated that he felt demoralized when he was told to change all the video presentations to match the school’s colours. After leaving the school, Brownder reluctantly moved to an independent school in order to regain his love for teaching. Several other science teachers, as well as teachers from other departments, reportedly left the state sector alongside Brownder.
Throughout her time teaching in London schools, Gohar Avanesjan had hoped to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged students. However, the intense stress of the job began to take a toll on her health and family. When faced with the expectations of treating students as data points that needed to reach certain milestones, she realized that she could no longer work in the state sector. In her current workplace, St Nicholas Prep School, Avanesjan is treated with respect and appreciation. With much smaller class sizes, she’s able to nurture each child individually, developing them academically and personally. She feels that her work at the independent school is purposeful, rather than just ticking off boxes for the school’s sake.
The Department of Education has acknowledged the problem and asserts that they are working with the profession to reduce workload and offer support for teachers. Despite this, many teachers continue to feel overworked and undervalued, with the stresses of the job causing them to leave the sector entirely.