Teachers cite workload pressures and diminishing respect for the profession as the main reasons why 35% wish to leave in the next five years.
A new survey by teaching union the National Education Union (NEU) has revealed that more than one in three teachers are planning to quit the classroom in the next five years due to increased workload and diminishing respect for the profession.
The union surveyed teachers, school leaders and support staff in schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and found that the education workforce is exhausted and jaded after a year of COVID-19 disruption. 70% of respondents reported increased workload over the past year and 95% said they worried about the impact on their wellbeing.
Out of the 10,000 NEU members polled, 35% said that they would “definitely” not be working in education by 2026 while 66% said they think the status of the teaching profession has got worse and blamed the government for failing to listen to or value teachers.
As one respondent was quoted as saying: “The pandemic has highlighted a high expectation on teachers whilst a total lack of respect from government.”
Of those that said they intended to leave education, the most common reason was that the profession was not valued by the government or the media (53%), followed closely by workload pressures (51%), accountability (34%) and pay (24%).
The survey also found that more than half (55%) believe their work-life balance is now worse than before the first lockdown.
Kevin Courtney, the NEU joint general secretary, said it was a “scandal” that the government has made “so little effort” to value the teaching profession and said it should come as no surprise that so many teachers want to leave the profession.
“These findings come after a year in which the education profession – as key workers – have been provided few safety protections, had to improvise solutions where government had simply left a void, and were met with a pay freeze for their troubles,” he said.
“To create an environment in which so many are overworked and looking for an exit, it is a scandal that so little effort has been made by government to value the profession. Instead, they feel insulted, and for many there comes a point where enough is enough.”
The survey also found that lockdown has had a positive impact on school staff’s relationships with their pupils’ families, with 30% saying they now have improved contacts with parents – many of whom have been much more involved with their children’s education this year.
The survey was published to coincide with the NEU’s annual conference, which is being held virtually this year due to COVID-19. During the conference, members have voted for a motion calling for GCSEs and A-Levels to be scrapped
The survey was published to coincide with the NEU’s annual conference – held virtually this year due to the pandemic – where members voted on Monday for a motion calling for GCSEs and A-levels to be scrapped and replaced with more flexible assessments and a motion to abolish Ofsted and school league tables.
Announcing the result of the motion to abolish Ofsted, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Our latest survey of over 10,000 members casts Ofsted in a very poor light. As we emerge from a time of great challenge for the education system and all who work in it, there is no taste for the return of full inspections. 77% of respondents told us that if Government are to truly support us during the recovery, they need to put both Ofsted and performance tables on the backburner throughout this academic year and the next.
“Recovery is not a one-term effort. At this time, we must focus on the needs of pupils and what schools and their staff judge to be the best approaches to rebuilding on-site learning.”