NFER: Teachers who work longer hours more likely to stay in profession and 6 other key findings

Teachers who work longer hours are slightly more likely to stay in the profession, according to new research.

The Ofsted rating of a school is also the most important school-level factor in terms of teachers quitting, the National Foundation for Educational Research has found.

Researchers analysed school workforce census data as well as the Labour Force survey and Understanding Society survey from 2010 to 2016 to investigate “in closer detail” than previous studies the factors that cause teachers to quit.

The researchers also conducted interviews with nurses and police officers, to compare teacher supply with the same issue in those sectors.

Schools Week has the key findings:

1. Teachers who work longer hours are slightly more likely to stay in their jobs

Teachers’ probability of leaving the profession and their working hours have a statistically significant negative relationship, the research found.

This suggests teachers who work longer hours do not have a higher probability of leaving the profession, and are even slightly more likely to stay in the profession.

Teachers who are unable or unwilling to work long hours may find their workload becomes “unmanageable” and so are the most likely to leave, said the authors.

It backs research by Sam Sims at FFT Education Datalab who found it’s not long hours but the feeling workload is undo-able that is the key factor in quitting.

2. Ofsted judgement is most important school-level factor for quitting or moving jobs

The most important school-level factor that is associated with leaving the profession and moving school is the school’s Ofsted rating, the NFER found.

The lower the Ofsted rating, the higher the proportion of teachers leaving the profession. The rate of leaving the profession is highest in schools rated as being ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

The NFER research confirms previous findings by Sims that there is an immediate impact of being downgraded to, or re-graded as, ‘inadequate’ on the probability of a teacher leaving the profession.

3. Teachers’ average hourly pay is lower than both nurses and police officers

The researchers ran a scenario in which they assumed teachers work a solid three weeks across all their school holidays. If this is the case, teachers real average hourly pay would be £17.10 in 2015-16.

This would mean teachers work the most hours per year out of policing, nursing and teaching and have the lowest real average hourly pay.

The researchers also find that teachers’ real average hourly pay has decreased by 15 per cent since 2009/10. Police officers had have an 11 per cent reduction while nurses’ real average hourly pay has fallen by four per cent.

Teachers work the most hours per year out of policing, nursing and teaching

Meanwhile full-time police officers have the highest annual earnings in 2015/16, which is £37,500 in 2017 prices, followed by teachers (£35,400) and nurses (£30,500).

4. One third of teachers who leave the profession move to private schools

Of teachers who leave jobs in state schools, 33 per cent moved into the private sector.

Thirty per cent retired, eight per cent took a non-teaching role in a school and two per cent became teaching assistants. Other roles included becoming self-employed and looking after family.

5. Older non-EBacc teachers most likely to quit

The quitting rate of older teachers who don’t teach one of the ‘core’ EBacc subjects which count in performance league tables has risen (see graph below).

Older teachers of non-EBacc subjects have been an important driver of the reduction in the proportion of teachers aged over 50, resulting in a younger workforce, warned the report.

6. Almost 80 per cent of teachers are satisfied with their job

Despite longer term-time working hours and lower satisfaction with their amount of leisure time, 79 per cent of teachers report that they are satisfied with their job, which is about the same as nurses and police officers.

But self-reported job satisfaction improves considerably after teachers leave the profession for a new job and it consistently remains higher than it was when they were a teacher.

Early-career teachers are accelerated into middle leadership positions more quickly in London

7. London is losing mid-career teachers

London schools lose just over one per cent of teachers in their 30s each year and 0.6 per cent of teachers in their 40s, while having a small net gain of teachers in their twenties.

This “disproportionate shift” of mid-career teachers out of London schools may also put particular pressure on the senior leadership pipeline in London, said the report.

As a result, early-career teachers are accelerated into middle leadership positions more quickly in London than they are in other areas. But this may leave them feeling underqualified and therefore “overwhelmed” by their extra responsibilities, warn authors.