The UK is suffering from something of a retention crisis with regards to the teaching profession.
According to statistics from last year, nearly four out of every ten newly qualified teachers quit within a year. And, when you take a closer look at the education system, there are some clear signs why it’s happening.
Today, we’re going to look at the major issues faced by teachers in UK schools. Let’s take things from the very top, with a big problem for almost every head in the country: funding.
Levels of funding have stayed the same in recent years, but the costs of running a school have risen significantly. Clearly, this is going to cause problems. If you look at businesses, forecasting is a vital tool for future planning – yet schools don’t get accurate budget forecasts. This makes running a school difficult, and it’s a big complaint from headteachers up and down the country.
Changes occur in the curriculum all the time, and there is no sign that this is slowing. Take a look here for some of those changes – bbc.co.uk. It causes a major issue for teachers – even those recently qualified. Many parts of the curriculum are at odds with the courses trainee teachers have been on, for example. Is it any surprise that the dropout rate is so high when teachers are being told to change the way they work so often?
There are 600,000 pupils set to start school this September, and 80,000 will not be going to their first school. And, for 20,000 students, they won’t be going to any of their preferred choices. Not only that, but the government expects the UK will need an extra 200,000 school places by 2020. The answer, at the moment, at least, is oversubscribing class numbers. Half a million classrooms in the country have more than 31 pupils – 15,000 have more than 40. Many schools have turned to temporary classrooms such as these – temporary-classrooms.co.uk. They provide a decent short-term solution, but with little ability to budget, it means the future is, at best, uncertain.
Cuts to the mental health services in the UK are also starting to affect schools and teachers. According to recent research, a fifth of all children will experience mental health problems by the time they reach age 11. And, a survey amongst headteachers suggests that two-thirds of all primary schools are struggling to cope. It all adds up to more pressure on teachers, who are already doing plenty of things outside the remit of their profession. They are now, in effect, teachers, social workers, mental health professionals and babysitters.
Finally, the days of teachers enjoying long holidays and short days are all but gone. Marking takes an average of two hours to complete every night, and everything must be recorded for Ofsted inspections. Many teachers are working for 50-60 hours per week, and there is little time for looking at classroom-specific problems. The pressure is on, for sure – and it’s a pressure to tick boxes, rather than to teach well, that is the big problem.