NQT retention rate branded ‘dismal’ as union reveals two in five stay less than a year

The “dismal” retention rate of newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) has been lamented by a union leader after figures revealed only three fifths of those who gained qualified teacher status (QTS) in 2011 were still in teaching a year later.

But conflicting figures from the National Council for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) for the number of NQTs who never entered the profession at all has led to concerns the 2011 figures used by the ATL could be an anomaly.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) general secretary Dr Bousted used her keynote speech to the union’s conference in Liverpool today to raise concerns about the workload challenges which forced teachers out of the profession.

Professor Alan Smithers
Professor Alan Smithers

In her speech, she pointed to ATL analysis of Department for Education (DfE) data which shows the proportion of NQTs remaining in the profession for more than a year had dropped from 80 per cent in 2005 to 62 per cent in 2011.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said NCTL figures showed that 7,159 NQTs failed to enter teaching in 2011, compared to 10,800 in the DfE figures.

Professor Smithers said: “The DfE figure for 2011 could be an anomaly. NCTL figures for those not ‘in teaching’ of those achieving QTS in 2008, 2009, and 2010 are, respectively, 4,706, 5,102, and 6,820 which are much closer to the numbers in ATL’s table.


“Perhaps it is a definitional thing. In relation to the NCTL figures, ATL’s figure for 2011 is much higher than for the other years. It is also much higher than the NCTL figure for 2012.”

In her speech, Dr Bousted said: “Teachers are leaving in their first year, or not starting teaching when they have completed their training.

Dr Mary Bousted
Dr Mary Bousted

“In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, just 62 per cent of newly qualified teachers who gained QTS that year were still in teaching service a year later – a dismal retention rate when compared with 2005 when 80 per cent of newly qualified teachers remained in teaching after one year.

“That’s almost 11,000 qualified teachers never entering the profession – taking work elsewhere.  Work with better pay and reasonable workload.”

Dr Bousted said the “exodus from teaching” could not happen at a worse time, adding that teachers currently faced the “challenge of change”, including extra pressures placed on them by bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual.

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