Workload driving young teachers out of the profession

NUT Conference 2017

Nearly half of young teachers say that mental health concerns could force them to leave the profession.

15 April 2017

A recent survey of more than 3,000 young teachers, conducted by the NUT Young Teachers Working Party, has found that almost half were considering leaving the profession as a result of an excessive workload driven by increasingly irrelevant accountability measures.

Key findings:

  • 83% of respondents stated that administrative tasks added to workload and did not contribute to the teaching of children.
  • 77% of young teachers said that their morale had declined since they had started teaching.
  • 74% said that they were working 51 hours or more per week, with nearly a quarter saying they are doing more than 61 hours.
  • 85% are finding it very difficult to keep a reasonable work/life balance.

This is only set to get worse as the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis and school funding cuts impact further on staff recruitment levels.

Furthermore, our survey found:

  • 70% of young teachers said that it was a passion for teaching that motivated them to stay in the profession,
  • but 32% of newly qualified teachers felt that they had not received adequate support in their first years in the profession.
  • And 45% of respondents said that they thought they would leave within 5 years, with nearly 50% citing concerns about the effect of teaching on their mental health.

The link between not being able to achieve a reasonable work/life balance and the issue of poor mental health cannot be ignored.

The NUT is urging the Government to take note of the findings of this survey. Leaders in education should be supporting and nurturing young teachers and harnessing their passion for teaching. Excessive workloads are instead prompting a premature departure from the profession and the loss of talented teachers.

The results of the Department for Education’s Teacher Workload Survey of 2016 in many respects reflect the finding of the NUT’s young teacher survey, highlighting workload issues for teachers new to the profession and revealing that ‘primary teachers with less than six years’ experience reported working a total of 18.8 hours per week outside school hours. This was two hours more than their more experienced colleagues.’

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The NUT encourages young teachers to know their rights and to be confident to say that a 50-hour working week is not acceptable. Mental wellbeing is a key issue for young teachers and a decent work/life balance is therefore essential to facilitating good mental health.

“Young teachers are the future of the profession yet many talented and enthusiastic professionals are being driven away from teaching to the detriment of our children’s education. The Government needs to accept its responsibility in this crisis and take positive steps to resolve the issues behind the problems of teacher workload that are clearly blighting the profession.”

Editor’s Note
The survey was conducted amongst in-service members aged 35 years or under between 17 October-17 November 2016. 3,012 teachers completed the questionnaire.

DfE, Teacher Workload Survey 2016 here.

The NUT’s Annual Conference is taking place this Easter weekend in Cardiff. For the Final Agenda, please visit here.