Session 25: Why do so many teachers leave the profession within 5 years and what could we do to prevent the drain?

Session Title

Why do so many teachers leave the profession within 5 years and what could we do to prevent the drain?

Summary of Discussion

[pullquote]I think it’s good not to paint teaching as rosy. Prospectives should know all the facts.[/pullquote]The discussion started with the factors that make the job challenging for new teachers. Although no-one suggested any links to data about retention rates, this is seen to be a big concern in the profession at the moment.

The biggest issues affecting it seem to be workload, lack of respect for the profession which makes it hard to actually do the job effectively, lack of ongoing professional development and going into the profession for the wrong reasons. Also, levels of accountability, ‘prescriptivity’ and working through holidays came up…. and the discussion developed to include the attitudes to “maverick” teachers – some SMT/SLT support and encourage innovative and creative approaches but unfortunately there are even more that perceive such teaching (and teachers) as a threat, which can also lead to teachers leaving the profession.

Teachfirst was mentioned  –  the anecdotal evidence in tonight’s discussion wasn’t favourable, suggesting that the “first” bit meant candidates would soon be moving onto a “second” career or that quality outcomes are lacking from the scheme. However it was recognised that there is going to be some movement in the profession – in fact some “churn” is desirable for keeping a school moving forward. We just aren’t sure if that churn is greater for new teachers than it is in other professions/careers!

There are some who enter the profession having only known the world of education, but there were also those taking part in the discussion who had changed career to become teachers and felt that gave them skills and adaptability to cope with the pace of teaching.  There was also a lengthy discussion about the importance of secondments for teachers as part of their CPD – whether in other schools, inner city schools, outside schools or in consultancy. Those who had been able to visit other schools felt it had supported their own professional development.  There was also a feeling that CPD needed to be tailored towards the needs of teachers, to be more personalised, to involve more peer mentoring/coaching. There were questions raised about whether teachers can be fully trained after only a year or if an extended training period or mentored period would be better. Also the value of staff rooms as places for sharing good practice was discussed.

Keeping “fresh” and revitalised was also seen to be key to teachers staying in the profession – and there were many examples of why people still enjoyed teaching to counter the reasons for people leaving the profession!

Eye-Cathing Tweets from the Discussion:
@deerwood I’d like teachers to get Council Tax reduction if live in same LA as, in effect, paying their own wages

@misterel…. Great job, no day is the same, challenging, constantly learning, fun, good holidays and pretty secure.

@Ideas_Factory … I’d like us to get paid hourly & keep
a “clock” on hours we actually work (like solicitors) we’d get a true pay/work

@ianaddison how about a 70 hour working week? No recognition from SMT? Getting abuse from children/parents? #ukedchat

@philallman1 #ukedchat workload, going into profession for wrong reasons.

@deerwood Why do teachers leave the profession, perhaps because they’re no longer treated like professionals #ukedchat

@Smichael920 Ofsted,sats, high level accountability, low level freedom, high level prescription, little creativity. #ukedchat

@Reteach10 RT @ianaddison: Looking to work for at least 5days of Xmas ‘holidays’ #ukedchat <same but useful to have space and time to think & plan

@CHAR0ULA so much pressure because teachers have to answer to kids,parents,school leaders,governors the government….#ukedchat

Tweets of the Week:

@philallman1 everyone is a critic. All went to school so they know how one functions. Gets to me sometimes too!

@theteachinggame I think it’s good not to paint teaching as rosy. Prospectives should know all the facts.

@deerwood but can anyone really be fully trained after only 1 year? Better to train everyone for 3 or 4 years?

Useful Link Highlighted during the Discussion:

About the host:


I’m a year 4 teacher and ICT coordinator in East Cheshire, currently seconded 2 days a week as primary ICT consultant.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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