‘Relentless’ workload forcing ‘desperate’ teachers to leave profession with big pay cuts

Teachers who leave the profession for other jobs are taking substantial pay cuts, a new study published tonight reveals.

The research by the NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) looked at teachers who left for different occupations over the past 14 years and found that, on average, their pay dropped by 10 per cent, compared with those who stayed in teaching.

It reveals that some teachers – who left to become teaching assistants or who took up a job in the public sector – saw a drop in their wages of up to 30 per cent.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she knew of a teacher who had become a bus driver because they felt “anything was preferable to the lack of quality of life” that came with teaching.

“The fact that teachers are taking lower paid jobs reflects the desperation that many teachers feel,” she said. “The relentless nature of the workload and pressure is leading to teachers just walking. They can see no way they can remain in teaching and so they lose professional status and money.”

But the NFER analysis, of the government Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, can only indicate how the teachers’ pay has changed in the short term as the LFS only follows up individuals for one year.

The Should I Stay or Should I Go? report concludes: “The short-term pay benefits from a career move may be limited by the need to prove value to new employers and develop skills for a different career. The prospect of higher pay in the longer-term may still have been a motivation for some teachers who left teaching.”

The report added that it is “possible that career-changers from other professions experience a similar fall in wages and this phenomenon is not likely to be unique to teaching.”

According to the research, more than half (51 per cent) of teachers who leave teaching take up jobs in the education sector (excluding those who leave to retire).

Carole Willis, NFER chief executive, said: “Recruiting and retaining good quality teachers is a key issue facing the education system over the next five to 10 years. Understanding the types of jobs former teachers are going into and their underlying motivations is crucial for formulating an appropriate policy response.”

The NFER analysed a sample of 6,896 teachers, including 936 who left teaching and 774 who joined teaching, over a 14-year period (2001-2015).

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