Two in five don't expect to stay in teaching beyond five years

Two fifths of teachers don’t see themselves remaining in the profession beyond 2024, while almost one in five expect to leave within two years, a new survey of National Education Union members has revealed.

The NEU asked more than 8,000 teachers, school leaders and support staff their views on workload, and found that 40 per cent believe they won’t last five years, while 18 per cent think they won’t stay longer than two.

The survey has prompted specific concerns about retention of early-career teachers, after 26 per cent of those with between two and five years’ experience told the union they intend to leave the education sector within five years.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents who wanted to leave said workload was a main reason, while 40 per cent listed accountability as a big factor. The survey also found that 56 per cent of school staff think their work-life balance has got worse or much worse in the past year, while just 12 per cent say it’s got better.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, has listed tackling workload as one of his top priorities since taking office.

The issue was one of the main driving forces behind his new teacher recruitment and retention strategy, drawn up in response to gloomy figures showing the number of teachers leaving the profession each year now equals the number entering it.

However, critics of the government have expressed doubts about ministers’ commitment to solve the problem, especially after a blunder which saw their workload reduction toolkit published on the first day of the summer holidays last year, and in the face of ongoing concerns about teacher pay.

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the NEU, accused the government of “doing a far better job of driving teachers out of the profession than they are solving the issue of excessive workload”.

“Damian Hinds has made many of the right noises about fixing the problem, but he and his predecessors have achieved very little,” Courtney said.

“The fundamental problem, as the results of our survey shows, is one of excessive accountability brought on by the DfE and Ofsted. The blame is at their door. So long as the main drivers of a performance-based system are still in place, schools will continue to be in the grip of a culture of fear, over-regulation, and a lack of trust.”

A government spokesperson said the education secretary has “set out his determination to help teachers and school leaders reduce their workload”.

“We have worked with school leaders and teachers to create a workload reduction toolkit, which provides practical advice and resources that schools can use rather than creating new ones from scratch.

“We are also tackling excessive data burdens in schools; simplifying the accountability system to target the associated burdens and working with Ofsted to ensure staff workload is considered as part of a school’s inspection judgement.”