Teaching becoming a job that is ‘just too big an ask’ but many feel trapped in profession

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Teaching is fast becoming a job that is “just too big an ask” with many keen to leave to the profession, an expert has warned.

The nation is facing a situation where children are taught by teachers who do not want to be there, but are trapped by their financial circumstances, according to Rebecca Allen, director of the Education Datalab think-tank.

At a General Election briefing on education, Ms Allen warned teaching is now “incredibly difficult”, bogged down with paperwork and accountability tasks that are leaving the profession exhausted.

More needs to be done, in particular to help new teachers, to stop them walking out the door, she said.

Teaching in England is now “an incredibly difficult job” with school workers “putting in hours in excess of anything that people could imagine”, she said.

“It’s something that is essentially a performance job and I think as a profession they’re exhausted.

“I think they’re exhausted not just by the day to day of delivering lessons, but more importantly everything else that they’re expected to do.”

She added: “When you look at surveys of the profession that say what proportion of people are thinking about leaving, the numbers are staggeringly high.”

Ms Allen continued: “They don’t all walk out the door but they don’t walk out the door in part because they can’t.

“We know that when teachers leave, they often go into the labour market and end up earning less, at least on day one as a consequence.

“But I don’t want my children to be taught by teachers who are there in the classroom but want to leave and are being trapped by their economic circumstances, and I think we’re getting into that situation because the job is just too big an ask.”

Ms Allen said there is a need to look at the improving the experience of teachers at the start of their career, which could include measures such as mentoring, smaller teaching workloads, or extending the teacher training period.

Professor Becky Francis, director of the UCL Institute of Education said the prospect of taking longer to achieve QTS may be off-putting to some would-be teachers, and suggested there could be a scheme where initial QTS is awarded at the end of teacher training and then further stages of development, which recognise a teacher’s work and progress.

Figures published last October showed nearly a third of teachers who began work in England’s state schools in 2010 were not in the classroom five years later. About one in eight had left after just a year.

Ministers have previously insisted teacher retention rates have been ‘’broadly stable’’ for the last 20 years.

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said its manifesto includes new policies to attract people into teaching, and remain in the profession.

“We will bear down on unnecessary workload and offer forgiveness for teachers on student loan repayments while they’re in the profession,” she said.

A Labour spokesman said: “We will lift the public sector pay cap to give our teachers a much needed pay rise, and put professionals at the heart of our review of the curriculum and assessment regime.

“We will also consult on teacher sabbaticals and reduce unnecessary monitoring and assessment.”

Gabby Logan at Leeds Trinity University yesterday. Picture Tony Johnson.

Gabby says goodbye to students at graduation