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Too many teachers leave the profession prematurely, NAHT warns the PAC

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On Wednesday 15 November, the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) held a hearing on retaining and developing the teacher workforce. Ahead of the hearing, we wrote to all of the committee members to share some of the initial findings from our recruitment and retention survey. 

Our letter highlighted the stark fact that when asked, two-thirds (66 per cent) of school leaders said they were aware of some of their staff having left the teaching profession prematurely. 

The top two reasons given by our members were workload (mentioned by 84 per cent of respondents) and to achieve a better work-life balance (83 per cent of respondents). Pay also came out as a strong driver following an 11 per cent decline in real terms compared with other professions since 2010. 

When we asked our members why they were struggling to fill teaching posts, 44 per cent cited the number of teachers leaving the profession as one of the top reasons for this – that's nearly triple the figure since 2014. 

In the letter, general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Too many teachers leave the profession before their time is up. Consequently, the UK teaching population is one of the youngest in the OECD. Experienced teachers are a vital component of a well-functioning system, and we are just not hanging onto enough of them. 

“Low pay, high workload and stress are the main ingredients of the recruitment and retention crisis currently gripping the UK. All three are the responsibility of the government, and all three must be solved urgently.” 

We will continue to lobby for a national strategy for teacher recruitment and retention that recognises teachers as high-status professionals and guarantees enough teachers for every classroom. 

The full findings from our survey will be published on Friday 24 November 2017. Watch the PAC hearing here.