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Half of teachers 'thinking of quitting' in next two years, union warns

Published 04/10/2015

Low morale, workload and pay are key problems for teachers, says the NUT
Low morale, workload and pay are key problems for teachers, says the NUT

More than half of teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years, a teaching union has warned.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the two main reasons given for wanting to leave were because of the heavy workload and a desire for a better work/life balance.

Its survey found that two-fifths (39%) said they suffered low morale, while 53% were considering leaving in the next two years.

A majority (73%) also said they believed current policies for the school curriculum and pupil assessment are "narrow and uncreative".

The union said it is clear that workload continues to be a huge problem, with teachers working anything up to 60 hours a week.

It said the Government must take urgent action on the key issues that drive teachers away - workload, pay and low morale.

It found morale has declined in the past five years for two thirds (67%) of teachers, while just one in 10 (9%) feel it has improved.

The YouGov survey of around 1,000 teachers also found them reporting reductions in the number of support staff (46%) and teachers (32%) in their school at the moment, while former education secretary Michael Gove's introduction of performance related pay has not gone down well.

Two thirds (67%) of those questioned said they were against it, mainly because it is "not practicable" to match an individual teacher's contribution to students' outcomes.

A majority (76%) said they also believe the enforced academisation of schools rated as "requires improvement" by Ofsted will damage education, while 62% think plans for 500 new free schools will have a negative effect.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "The Government's current priorities are both wrong and profoundly out of step with the views of teachers. They are the essential cause of the growing problems with teacher supply.

"This survey demonstrates the combined, negative impact of the accountability agenda on teacher workload and morale. Teachers feel that the Department for Education's work thus far to tackle workload has been totally inadequate.

"Meanwhile, nearly one million more pupils are coming into the system over the next decade. The Government's solution so far has been to build free schools, often where there are surplus places, and to allow class sizes to grow.

"Add to this a situation where teachers are leaving in droves and teacher recruitment remains low. We now have a perfect storm of crisis upon crisis in the schools system.

"The long-term erosion of teacher pay is further contributing to low teacher morale. The Department for Education remains wilfully and recklessly unable to see that they are the cause of teacher misery across England."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "Teaching remains a hugely popular profession, with the highest numbers of people joining since 2008. The latest figures show the number of former teachers coming back to the classroom has continued to rise year after year - from 14,720 in 2011 to 17,350 in 2014.

'While the vast majority of teachers stay in their roles for more than five years, we know unnecessary workload can detract from what matters most: teaching. That's why we launched the Workload Challenge, and are working with the profession to understand and tackle the top issues that teachers said caused the most bureaucracy, with leading education experts taking action on key areas such as marking and lesson planning."

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