A third of teachers who started work in 2010 have already left the profession

Union leaders argue teachers are increasingly put off the profession by poor working conditions and attacks to teacher salary

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Monday 24 October 2016 13:17 BST
Former Education Secretary Michael Gove made a number of controversial education reforms in 2010
Former Education Secretary Michael Gove made a number of controversial education reforms in 2010 (Reuters)

Almost a third of newly qualified teachers who began work at English schools six years ago have already left the profession, official Government figures have revealed.

Some 24,100 new primary and secondary teachers qualified and began work in 2010, the same year a number of serious education reforms were announced by the Coalition government.

By the end of the last academic year, however, 7,230 of those teachers had left their jobs to pursue a different career.

Critics of the reforms, which were implemented by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, say the figures are indicative of an impending teacher shortage, reaffirming fears over a major recruitment crisis in the industry.

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said urgent action was needed to tackle to the crisis, and blamed Mr Gove for belittling teachers and devaluing the profession.

He said: “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.

According to the union, excessive workloads and attacks on salaries are responsible for driving teachers away from the profession. Mr Courtney added that schools have become “more difficult and less rewarding places” to work in in recent years.

“For this we can thank Michael Gove,” he said, “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.”

The statistics, revealed in a written parliamentary answer from Schools Minister Nick Gibb, also show that 13 per cent of the 2010 intake dropped out of the profession within their first year. This climbed to 18 per cent after two years and just under a third left the profession in 2015, five academic years after they started teaching.

DfE statistics also highlight the significant number of teaching posts that schools are not able to fill permanently - in November 2015 there were 730 teacher vacancies and 2870 temporarily filled posts where a vacancy existed.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, the party that requested the figures, said the numbers suggested that Mr Gove had left behind a “damning record” in his four years as Education Secretary.

A Department for Education spokesman insisted that teacher retention rates had been “broadly stable” for the past 20 years and pointed out that teachers in the UK receive higher average salaries than other OECD countries.

He said: “Teaching remains an attractive career and we have more teachers entering our classrooms than those choosing to leave or retire.

“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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