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What would make you stay in teaching?

14 November 2023

This morning, Teacher Tapp Co-Founder Becky Allen gave evidence to the Education Select Committee on the critical issue of teacher retention. Her testimony incorporated the perspectives of you… our 10,000 Teacher Tappers. So, today’s post highlights some of this important story of the teacher retention crisis that it is important for Members of Parliament, using your valuable data points.

Regret and intentions to stay

The crux of the issue is evident in our recent findings: Last time we asked, only 59% of you said you expect to be a teacher in three years’ time and this is down from a stable figure of around 75% before the pandemic. This marked decrease signals a deep-seated problem within the profession.

Moreover, a growing sense of regret among teachers has become apparent. Consider these statistics:

  • 24% would opt not to pursue a teaching career if given the opportunity to decide anew, a notable increase from 15% prior to the pandemic.
  • 65% would consider leaving the teaching field if they could secure a position offering a comparable salary, up from 50% before the pandemic

What’s causing burnout and desire to leave?

We ask you lots of questions about your wellbeing and this question on burnout highlights the problem. Typically, over 60% report experiencing burnout during the term, with a slight recent uptick in those feeling profoundly burnt out. Approximately 10% feel completely overwhelmed, questioning their ability to continue in the profession, while an additional 20% suffer from persistent burnout.

When asked about the primary sources of stress and dissatisfaction at work, you highlighted:

  • Student behaviour (47%) <- mentioned MORE in primaries than in secondaries!
  • Administrative tasks (47%)
  • Accountability (37%) <- This is a top pick of school leaders
  • Pastoral concerns (35%)
  • Interactions with colleagues (31%)
  • Relationships with senior leaders (30%)
  • Marking (30%)
  • Relationships with parents <- This is a top pick of school leaders

For those actively considering leaving teaching, the changes needed to retain them primarily relate to workload and remuneration. Workload reduction, notably in terms of hours, is the most common request. Better pay, challenges posed by Ofsted and the broader accountability framework, student behaviour issues, and a desire for more autonomy and less micro-management were also frequently cited.

We can clearly see that teachers working the longest hours are reporting the lowest wellbeing in our survey. The wellbeing score we have created is based on your responses to questions about burnout, stress and contentment. We then compared these scores to the number of hours you said you were working in a week just before half term. It’s clear that those working very long hours, also report lower wellbeing on average. (But there is a lot of variation – there are happy teachers working long hours!)

Is Workload Reduction Feasible?

Numerous governments have tried and failed to reduce teacher workload, and we think it is very difficult to do without reducing your teaching hours or removing major duties and responsibilities from schools. For example, when asked what you are spending too much time on at the moment, the top pick (45%) is behaviour management in and outside the classroom. We’re not sure anyone has any great ideas about how to manage time wasted on this issue but we are going to ask further questions on it very soon.

There are other activities that it might be more possible for schools to review and reduce. For example 29% said you are spending too much time on data drops (e.g. recording attainment) and 27% said you spend too much time marking students’ work. What would happen if schools shut their attainment databases and ripped up their marking policies? Some of you might still choose to mark as much as you are at the moment, but we know well over half of teachers feel their students would learn just as much as they do at the moment without any written marking.

Government workload initiatives

The Department for Education has regular initiatives to help schools with workload and wellbeing, but are all these initiatives good for wellbeing? This weekend we asked Senior Leaders about three of them, and the feedback isn’t particularly positive.

  • On the Workload Reduction Toolkit, a third had never heard of it, a third had heard of it but never read it, and just 9% of senior leaders thought it was useful.
  • On the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter, over half have never heard of it, only 1-in-5 have read it, and just 8% thought it was useful.
  • On the Flexible Working Toolkit (which is admittedly quite new), over half have never heard of it, just 15% have looked at it, and just 4% thought it was useful.

Ups and downs

On the rise

📈 The number of you driving to school in an electric or hybrid car is now 8% (up from 5%)

📈 Behaviour is worse than in September – last Friday 42% said teaching largely stopped during the lesson we asked about (up from 35%)

Heading down

📉 Teachers are less positive about their school’s behaviour policy compared with two years ago. They are less likely to say it is appropriately firm (29% vs 34% in 2021), usable (54% vs 59%), clear (36% vs 40%) or effective (23% vs 30%).

Daily reads…

The most read article of the last week has been: Clearing the bar

And here are the rest for your reference:

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