Education & Family

New teachers: 30% of 2010 intake quit within five years

School hall
Image caption Problems with teacher supply will be a problem as the secondary age population rises, say experts

Almost a third of the new teachers who started jobs in English state schools in 2010 had left the sector five years later, ministers have confirmed.

Of 24,100 state school teachers to qualify in 2010, 30% had quit by 2015, Schools Minister Nick Gibb revealed in a written parliamentary answer.

The Liberal Democrats say the figures are a "damning record" of Michael Gove's term as education secretary.

The government said teacher retention had been broadly stable for 20 years.

The figures were confirmed by Mr Gibb in a written parliamentary answer to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland.

Brain drain

They show that in November 2010 24,100 newly qualified teachers entered English state schools.

After one year 87% were still there.

This fell to 82% after two years, 77% after three years, 73% after four years and 70% after five years.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh said he blamed changes brought in by Mr Gove, who turned more than half of secondary schools into academies, reshaped the curriculum and rewrote the exam system.

"It is bad enough that dedicated teachers are being driven away from the profession they love, but this is also laying the foundations for a disastrous teaching shortage in years to come if we cannot train new teachers fast enough to replace the ones which leave," said Mr Pugh.

"The government must urgently work with the teaching community to address the many factors which are making teachers feel demoralised and under-valued; as well as reversing their devastating cuts to school budgets, which are putting increasing pressure on teachers and schools."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The improving economy has made it easier for young teachers to find better paid jobs elsewhere

Teacher supply expert Prof John Howson, who runs recruitment website TeachVac, says he believes the poor teacher retention rate has "more to do with economics than politics".

He said the last teacher recruitment crisis, at the turn of the millennium, was resolved by the Labour government "taking the brakes off the advanced pay scale" which meant young teachers received rapid pay rises.

The economic crisis saw a clampdown on public sector pay but it was not until the economy improved in 2012 that state school teachers found they could get better pay elsewhere, Prof Howson added.

He says they do not always leave teaching - some join private schools or teach overseas.

He suggests that as the secondary school-age population starts to rise there could be problems ahead, particularly in shortage subjects like physics or design technology "where this is the fifth or sixth year when we haven't trained enough teachers".

'Higher pay'

The Department for Education says more teachers are "entering our classrooms than those choosing to leave or retire".

A spokesman said the annual average teacher salary in the UK was higher than the OECD average and higher than in many of Europe's high-performing education systems, like Finland, Norway or Sweden.

He added: "We want every child to have access to great teachers that aren't weighed down with unnecessary workload so they have the time and freedom to do what they do best - inspire the next generation. We recognise teachers' concerns and are continuing to work with the sector to find constructive solutions to this issue."

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