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08 April 2021

More than one in three teachers do not see themselves in education in five years

08 April 2021

More than a third of teachers do not see themselves working in education in five years’ time, a survey suggests.

Two in three teachers say the status of the profession has worsened over the past year, according to a poll from the National Education Union (NEU).

The leader of the UK’s largest teaching union has called it “a scandal” that “so little effort has been made by government to value the profession”.

The survey, of mainly teachers, school leaders and some support staff, suggests that more than half (55%) say their work-life balance is now worse than before the first lockdown, while 68% have seen their workload increase.

It found that 35% of respondents were confident they would no longer be working in education in 2026.

The findings were released on the second day of the NEU’s annual conference.

Members were 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 as part of the survey of nearly 10,700 NEU members.

One in five respondents said their work-life balance is now “much worse” than before the first national lockdown.

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.”

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

The only significant improvement has been staff relationships with pupils’ families, the poll suggests.

The survey found that 30% had seen their relationships with parents improve over the past year, with just 15% seeing a drop.

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.

“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.”

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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