education

One in three teachers plan to quit within five years


Teachers were surveyed on their experiences in the profession following a year of Covid classroom disruption (Picture: PA)

One in three teachers in the UK see themselves working different jobs within the next five years, a major survey has suggested.

A poll by the the National Education Union (NEU) found teachers have become disillusioned with their careers amid the pandemic due to increasing workloads combined with decreasing respect for the career.

Out of more than 10,000 polled, 35% said they would ‘definitely’ not be working in education in 2026, with the NEU saying it ‘a scandal’ that ‘so little effort has been made by government to value the profession’.

Following an exhausting year of classroom disruption, almost 70% of teachers, school leaders and support staff have seen an increase in their workload.

More than half say their work-life balance is ‘much worse’ now than before the first national lockdown, while 95% were worried about the impact of this on their wellbeing.

One respondent said: ‘I think that the expectations placed upon full-time teachers during the pandemic are immense.’

Another added: ‘The pandemic has highlighted a high expectation on teachers whilst a total lack of respect from government.’

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: ‘It should come as no surprise that so many are thinking of leaving teaching.

‘These findings come after a year in which the education profession, as key workers, have been provided few safety protections, had to improvise solutions where government had simply left a void, and were met with a pay freeze for their troubles.

Many said workload pressure had increased during the pandemic (Picture: Getty)

‘To create an environment in which so many are overworked and looking for an exit, it is a scandal that so little effort has been made by government to value the profession.

‘Instead, they feel insulted, and for many there comes a point where enough is enough.’

Members had been asked to compare aspects of their job to a year ago to assess what had improved or worsened over the course of the Covid year.

The only significant improvement has been staff relationships with pupils’ families, with 30% saying they had got better while only 15% said the opposite, found the poll.

Out of those who said they wanted to leave the profession, 53% said it was due to the profession not being valued or trusted by the government or media, followed by workload pressures (51%), accountability (almost 35%) and pay (at least 20%).

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said: ‘We are enormously grateful to teachers and other school staff for the resilience and commitment they have shown in supporting children during the pandemic.

‘We have taken a wide range of action to address teacher workload and wellbeing, and invested millions in mental health charities to support teachers.

‘This includes our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme, which is supporting staff in schools and colleges to respond to any wellbeing issues they or their colleagues may be experiencing.

‘We are also improving support and professional development for teachers at all stages of their career. This includes providing additional support for teachers who are at their least experienced and at most risk of leaving the profession, through our Early Career Framework reforms.’

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