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The Education Secretary says all new teaching roles should have flexible working options as a survey shows large numbers of teachers are leaving or considering leaving the profession due to workload issues and a culture of constant scrutiny and accountability.
All new teacher jobs should be advertised with flexible working options, the Education Secretary told the Schools and Academies Show this week.
Launching the Government’s Edtech Strategy, Damian Hinds said getting more flexibility into teaching was one of the key challenges for the strategy.
He said: “It turns out that in teaching, we have a lower incidence of flexible working – part-time, job share and so on – than in society as a whole, and we can’t afford that any more.
“We are going to need to find more ways to support people in the requirements that they have in their family lives and caring responsibilities and so on.”
His comments came after a study showed nearly half of teachers leave or consider leaving within 10 years of beginning teacher training, with workload and work-life balance being key reasons.
The study by researchers at the Institute of Education, University College London, suggests that teachers are not leaving through choice. On entry, they mainly view teaching as a long-term career. Although the study finds that they are aware when they enter that teaching is going to be demanding, but it says they feel that the demands of the job outstrip their capacity to adapt.
Many thought they could cope with the workload, but the study finds lack of support and the target accountability culture appeared to be worse than they had expected. Hinds acknowledged that workload was a huge issue for teacher retention, but said it was a difficult one to tackle.
One teacher said: “I have so many friends and colleagues who have left teaching due to the workload, stress and general exhaustion. They have transferred to other jobs (some less well paid) and they say their quality of life has been greatly improved by leaving teaching. This needs to be addressed urgently otherwise more skilled teachers will leave the profession.”
The researchers says reducing workload is important, but that this is not the only issue. Part of the problem, it says, lies within the culture of teaching, “the constant scrutiny, the need to perform and hyper-critical management”. It states: “Reducing workload will not address these cultural issues.”