Number of teachers leaving the profession early hits record high
The number of teachers leaving the profession before reaching retirement age has hit a record high, with Government figures showing that thousands of staff have opted to leave teaching early.
9,370 teachers left the profession prematurely in 2011, a figure which increased by 1,500 from 2009/10. Deteriorating pay, pension arrangements and Government measures, including tougher targets and the possibility of regional and performance-related pay, have been described by the teaching unions as the reason many staff are choosing to take early retirement, The Independent reports.
74% of ATL members consider early retirement
“When we surveyed members in the middle of the pensions dispute, 74 per cent of them [teachers] said that they would consider retiring early rather than join the Government's proposed scheme,” Martin Freedman, Head of Pay, Conditions and Pensions at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said. “This seems to add support to the theory that the Government's combined actions on pensions and pay freezes and rhetoric on underperforming teachers will drive teachers out of the profession.”
Nearly half of NASUWT members have considered quitting
The figures have come weeks after NASUWT revealed that nearly half of its 230,000 members have considered quitting in the last year. More than a third said that they did not believe they were respected as professionals and half said their job satisfaction had declined in the last year.
Pressure is higher up the career ladder
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: "the pressure was being felt higher up the career ladder with two in every five members reporting that they have accelerated their retirement plans".
1970s bulge to blame? DfE comments
Officials suggested the rise in people quitting was partly explained by a "bulge" in teachers who joined the profession in the 1970s coming to retirement at the same time. The Department for Education (DfE) insisted that "thousands of teachers are doing a good job", but said that concerns over standards could not be ignored.
A Spokesman commented: "We're undertaking a major reform programme and their skills and experience are vital. We want to make their lives easier, giving them more day-to-day freedom, slashing bureaucratic paperwork and giving them more control over discipline.”
Julian Stanley of TSN comments
Commenting on the figures, Julian Stanley, Group Chief Executive of Teacher Support Network said: "We understand that working in the classroom can often be a challenging, daunting or overwhelming experience at some point in a teacher’s working life. In 2010 and 2011, Teacher Support Network received nearly 5,000 calls and emails from teachers suffering from anxiety. 4,256 teachers indicated they had a low mood and 3,293 said they felt overwhelmed.
It is therefore perhaps not unsurprising that many teachers felt that they have no other choice, but to leave the profession early, rather than continue until the age of 65.
The fear is, if the current perception of education is the likelihood of enforced early retirement, and with less teacher training places now available, how do we attract, and most importantly retain, the best candidates to teach our children?
At Teacher Support Network, we believe the teaching profession needs to be valued more highly; the vast majority of teachers do an excellent job day in and day out. Teaching should be a rewarding, lifelong vocation, not seen as a profession to escape from."