One in five teachers plan to leave within two years

A new poll by the National Education Union has found that 44 per cent of England’s state-school teachers plan to quit by 2027, with half of those intending to leave within two years.

The latest annual survey of 1,788 National Education Union members shows that schools are struggling to fill vacant posts, leading to a doubling up of roles. As many as 73 per cent of teachers say that this has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, 52 per cent of teachers say their workload is either ‘unmanageable’ or ‘unmanageable most of the time’, up from 35 per cent in 2021, and two-thirds of teachers in state-funded schools in England feel stressed at least 60 per cent of the time.

When asked in 2022, workload was the overwhelming motivation for 65 per cent of teachers in English state schools who expect to go within two years, and 63 per cent of those departing within five years.

The next most popular options were ‘the feeling that the education profession is not valued or trusted by the government and media’ (38 per cent of English state-school teachers planning to leave within five years) and accountability (35 per cent). Pay was also a significant reason given (25 per cent), as was retirement (26 per cent) although many who selected the latter option were in leadership roles or already working part-time.  

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “It is high time that the government reflected on the failure of successive education secretaries to get a grip on the issues facing teachers. When Nicky Morgan launched the Workload Challenge in 2014, little did we expect to be scarcely off the starting position eight years later. We remain a profession with amongst the highest number of unpaid working hours, and we are still well above the international average for hours worked by teachers. This is simply unsustainable and can only lead to burn-out."

“The government would do well to not just accept that high workload is a problem, but that they have played a starring role in many of the contributing factors. Our survey findings show that whether it be recruitment targets missed, talented teachers leaving the profession, the pernicious effects of a punitive and deeply flawed inspection system, or the effect of real-terms cuts to pay over many years, a national policy decision is always the villain of the piece. The Department for Education must take steps to right the ship, which is currently shedding too many staff and not finding enough to replace them. This is to a very large extent because the job is made unattractive and unsustainable."

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