There is currently a teacher shortage in England, which has led to a combination of underqualified teachers teaching, and qualified teachers coming in from overseas to help plug the gaps.
Official Government figures released last year revealed that almost one-third of newly qualified teachers who began work 6 years ago had already left the profession, and with pupils numbers expected to rise by over half a million- to around 3.3 million- by 2025, there are real fears for the future of teaching in England.
The Schools Week graph above shows the increase in full-time teacher “wastage” rates over time. “Wastage” is described as the number of people leaving the profession, retiring, or going on maternity leave.
The Department for Education’s response to these statistics is that they are nothing to worry about, as recruitment is at record levels. However, just because someone doesn’t leave the profession, does not mean they are happy, plus, recruitment is not keeping up with demand, thus compromises on quality are made as new recruits are sped through training.
Educational reforms, implemented in 2010 and overseen by then Education Security Michael Gove have been widely accepted to be the cause behind the industry’s failings in recruitment, with school’s becoming “more difficult and less rewarding places” to work, according to the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Kevin Courtenay.
We wanted to find out ourselves what they main problems teachers felt they were facing when teaching, the amount of work they were putting into their jobs and where they felt their short, mid, and long-term futures lie, so we asked teachers from 104 schools across England:
And found out that …
Only 48% of teachers said they planned on staying a teacher for the foreseeable future
Just over one quarter responded saying they could see themselves leaving the profession in the next 1-5 years
When asked on the biggest issues teachers currently faced, “Not having enough time to dedicate to pupils” was the most popular response
Over half of teachers surveyed were considering their futures as teachers in England, with 29% saying they can see themselves leaving in the next 5 years, and 23% actually currently looking to either teach abroad or change career completely
Highlights the level of disaffection and growing disillusion within the teaching industry in England. With over 50% of the entire profession doubting if they will stay within it, it is apparent that serious issues are rife. The 23% looking to teach elsewhere clearly still enjoy the profession but are dissatisfied with the curriculum/school environment.
21% of teachers are working over 10 hours overtime per week, with 9% hitting 15 hours or more.
Teachers are not finding enough time in their working day to complete all they need to do, leading to the need to work extra hours. This is highly likely due to too many demands on their time, for example, admin, marking, playground duties, etc., that work must be either completed after hours or taken home with them. It is clear that this is neither sustainable nor acceptable.
50% of teachers are working between 3-10 hours overtime per week
As above, this suggests that teachers do not have enough time in their working day to complete all that is required of them. This is within the bounds of the national average, which shows overtime is not just an issue for teachers.
Only 8% stated they don’t do any overtime at all per week, but this I believe comes from the issue with what defines “overtime” and teachers’ perceptions of their normal working hours.
Suggests that teachers accept additional work as part of their job role, reinforcing the issue that their official working hours do not allow sufficient time to complete what is required of them.
The biggest issue teacher’s face regarding teaching is not having enough time to dedicate to their pupils, with one-third of responders agreeing with that.
This is interesting threefold: Firstly, it suggests that teachers are having to spend too much time on administrative tasks such as paperwork and reporting, rather than engaging with their pupils. It could also mean that class sizes are too large, leaving the teacher too thinly stretched between pupils and finally, I think this highlights the good natures of teachers, in that, their main priority above all else, is spending time with their pupils.
Nearly 1 in 3 surveyed said behavioural management was their biggest issue at school
This is likely a direct correlation of the issue above, whereby pupils are suffering from a lack of direct interaction with their teacher, causing them to misbehave. Teachers may also feel unsure of how to effectively manage disruptive behaviour in the classroom, causing it to proliferate
Work-life balance and mentally related stress issues were both selected by just under 1 in 4 teachers as two of the biggest issues they face with teaching.
These are two likely contributing factors to the level of dissatisfaction within the profession as a whole. If teachers are regularly placed under considerable stress, they are likely to feel they aren’t doing their job to their utmost. When you combine this factor with the feeling that their work/life balance is out of sync, they are likely to begin to feel overwhelmed and resentful, which, in time, can lead to serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
14% of those surveyed thought poor internal management was one of the biggest issues they face when teaching
Amongst all other issues, this is perhaps the one that can be easiest amended. Internal policies within schools are something that can be worked on if the right channels of dialogue between hierarchies are opened. If this isn’t the case though, it may be the case that management levels do not understand the challenges teachers are facing in the classroom, and rather they chose to focus on targets and grades.
This next section takes the recipients and segments them by job title, gender, age and company size allowing us to dig further into the responses.
Variable – gender
54% of female teachers see themselves teaching for the foreseeable future, compared with only 38% of males
62% of male teachers are either currently looking to switch careers or move abroad to teach or say they think they will leave teaching in the next 5 years.
Just under half (45%) of female teachers feel the same way, with the majority saying they can’t see themselves leaving the profession
Suggests that female teachers are less likely to leave the profession, despite the challenges they face and the dissatisfaction that is rife. May also suggest that female teachers are more committed to the English schooling system and curriculum, rather than those abroad.
Variable – age
Unsurprisingly, it is the lower end of the teaching age spectrum who are the most likely to leave teaching in the immediate future. 100% of those surveyed over the age of 55 saw their foreseeable future in teaching – equally unsurprising.
The only other age group where the majority of teachers (55%) saw their foreseeable future in teaching, was the 26-35-year-olds.
Those in the 26-35-year-old bracket are in the part of the careers where they have survived the early stages of teaching, and are moving onto the period where the next decade can define their whole careers, so, naturally, you would assume they are more happy with the career path at this stage.
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