24 October 2016
Commenting on figures in a written parliamentary answer by schools minister Nick Gibb, which show that 30% of teachers who qualified in 2010 had quit by 2015, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said
“It is deeply regrettable that so many people have chosen to leave teaching, when we need new teachers more than ever. Despite high demand, there has been a consistent shortfall in the numbers recruited to training courses since 2010. On top of this, schools are now experiencing increased difficulties in retaining staff. Ministers need to ask themselves why this is happening, and to take immediate action.
“They need to face the fact that schools have become more difficult and less rewarding places in which to work. Intense workload and the demands of high-stakes testing create an environment where job satisfaction is becoming rarer. As a result of staffing problems, many schools are relying on desperate solutions: overuse of supply teacher agencies, and asking teachers to cover roles outside their specialism. The quality of provision is being lowered - and ministers must take responsibility for this.
“For this we can thank Michael Gove, who as Education Secretary routinely denigrated the profession, questioning their capabilities and worsening teachers' lot through higher workload and real terms pay cuts, freezes, and, for good measure, a sledgehammer to pensions. In Finland, teachers are paid well and thrive, with retention nowhere near as much of an issue as it is here. Perhaps Gove's successor can take heed and make urgent correction to the pay and working conditions of all teachers.”