Teachers: 'Form-filling took up half of my working life'

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It took less than a year for Simon Hawthorne to realise he had made a mistake.

It was not the school's fault, nor did he lack commitment to the job. He simply realised that, as a primary school teacher in west London, he would never earn enough money to buy a house in the locality for him and his fiancee.

Also, the paperwork and bureaucracy meant he was only devoting about 50 per cent of his working time to what he really wanted to do – teach.

Mr Hawthorne was just one of the 36,843 full-time teachers who decided to quit at the end of the summer term.

"I did think of swapping and moving to a secondary school," he said. "I thought that possibly with just the one subject to teach there might have been less bureaucracy. However, I then got this job offer [as project manager with a building firm with a 50 per cent increase in salary and promotion prospects] and I left."

Mr Hawthorne, aged 29, who taught in Feltham, west London, and now works in Byfleet, Surrey, said: "I was really keen on being a teacher. I'd been to university before I opted for teaching so I had to pay my tuition fees. It was towards the end of the second term that I began to realise I should make a change.

"It was pay, conditions and workload – as simple as that. The school was excellent, I had excellent support from my colleagues, but 50 per cent of my working life was filling in forms. I'd be at school from 7.30am until 5.30pm and then I'd have to go back and prepare at home. Also, there was no prospect of a major advance on pay unless I took on extra responsibilities – and that would have involved more paper work. I'm single at the moment but I want a family in the long run. My fiancee is just coming to the end of her university course and we wouldn't be able to buy a place to live on my teacher's salary."