Poor NQT retention figures spark further workload warnings

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Calls for direct action to tackle workload have been renewed after government figures revealed significant retention problems among new teachers.

The figures released in response to a written Parliamentary question show that 30 per cent of NQTs who started teaching in 2010 were no longer teaching in state schools five years later.

They show that 24,100 NQTs entered service in the autumn of 2010 and that 87 per cent of them continued in the profession following their first year of teaching – a figure which has remained largely stable since 1996.

However, the percentage drops to 82 per cent after two years, 77 per cent after three years, 73 per cent after four years, and 70 per cent after five years.

A similar trend is emerging for NQTs who have started their teaching careers in subsequent years.
In Autumn 2011, 20,600 NQTs entered the profession, with 88 per cent remaining after one year. But again this figure drops – to 83 per cent after two years, 77 per cent after three years and 73 per cent after four years.

Retention woes: Figures released by the Department for Education show the retention rates of NQTs who have entered teaching from 2010 onwards

Alison Ryan, senior policy advisor at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the loss of teachers is “a tragic and expensive waste” and is a particular concern in light of the increasing pupil numbers.

She added: “The government needs to tackle the reasons why teachers are leaving the profession; excessive workload, working with an assessment system which strips the joy from pupils’ learning and dealing with a treadmill of constant change in education.

“It would be easier for schools to retain teachers if they could give their teachers time for high-quality training and to put their professional learning into practice, and allow them to be creative in the way they teach.”

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “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.”


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