Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Teaching can and should be one of the most rewarding careers imaginable. But for many teachers and school leaders, the enormous privilege of helping young people learn and grow can be outweighed by the pressure and workload of the profession they’ve chosen.
“Previous NFER research showed that the number of teachers leaving the profession has risen since 2010, to more than 10% of both secondary and primary teachers. NAHT’s own data reflects this – we know that teacher retention is just as much of a concern to school leaders as teacher recruitment.
“The DfE’s recently published Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy takes some measures to address this, including a welcome move away from floor and coasting standards – a big driver of unnecessary stress and uncertainty for school leaders and teachers.
“They also announced an Early Career Framework which includes measures that have the potential to transform the experience of teachers at the start of their careers. But as much attention is needed for existing, experienced teachers – these are the people we desperately need to encourage to take on school leadership, rather than losing them at a critical moment in their careers.
“A recent NAHT survey showed that 77% of school leaders struggled to recruit last year, while 67% said members of their staff had left for reasons other than retirement. We asked our members what they felt would most ease the recruitment and retention crisis in schools: 75% said a better work-life balance, 64% said better pay and conditions, and 63% said a less punitive accountability system. A real-terms increase in school funding was the top answer, from 82% of respondents.
“Funding, pay, workload and accountability are the big pressures on teachers and school leaders. They are all linked, and all must be tackled to rebalance the reality of teaching as a job.
“Teachers are graduates who have many career choices open to them. They go into teaching with passion, because they care and want to make a difference, but we have to treat them well and respect their need for a proper work-life balance if we expect them to stay.”
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