According to stark government figures, almost one quarter of teachers who have qualified since 2011 have left the profession. Why?
Yes, there are the usual rumblings around pay, working hours and broader curriculum frameworks – but a list of the most common reasons drawn from a range of different sources focuses on basic day-to-day tasks. From the burden of writing policies, to the requirement for continual cross-referencing and the demands of target-setting approaches, it seems like many teachers simply don’t enjoy the mechanics of their (rapidly changing) jobs.
It looks like a bleak picture. But it’s not insurmountable. What’s needed is a strategy that focuses on keeping teachers in the profession for a long time just as much as it focuses on bringing new teachers into that profession. In short, a strategy that creates career teachers.
Here are three initiatives that could make a big difference to existing and future generations of classroom teachers:
1. Reworking the curriculum
Yes, this is a sensitive one. Curriculum changes which continually alter the mechanics of exam preparation and pupil outcomes are, clearly, a massive additional burden for teachers. However, there certainly seems to be space for more flexibility within the current curriculum, so that individual teachers have more control over the teaching content and approaches they take within their own classrooms. Creating a sense of control and ownership over the role is a tried and tested means of improving how workers in multiple sectors feel about their jobs. For teachers, that might mean more choice over the curriculum covered, or more flexibility over the order in which different topics are dealt with.
2. Reducing class sizes
The hefty administrative burden that teachers face today would clearly be lessened if each of them had fewer pupils to manage. We’re talking fewer forms to fill in, fewer targets to set, and less bureaucracy overall. What’s more, the day-to-day mechanics of the job would become more enjoyable, with less time given over to crowd control, and more to the actual business of teaching. How achievable this would be depends on how successfully we can attract and retain educators, and the degree of flexibility in the budget to allow for improvements in school infrastructure.
3. Graduate Teaching Assistants
Of course, reducing class sizes is a hugely costly measure, and depends on attracting a raft of new teachers to the profession too.
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are a vital lifeline for schools, relieving workload pressures on teachers – allowing them to focus on delivering lessons to pupils - and providing learning and pre-learning support to improve educational outcomes. There are approximately 380,000 teaching assistants in schools across the UK; a stark rise from 2000 when there were only 79,000 in situ. This represents an overall drive to provide greater support in the classroom as numbers continue to grow.
Not only are GTAs vital as a support mechanism for pupils and staff, but they also represent a sound investment and a prime opportunity for enticing and retaining future generations of talented teachers. Retention isn’t merely about ensuring that your workforce is satisfied in their roles today– it’s making certain they can see a satisfying career for themselves in the future.
To find out more about the positive impact of graduate teaching assistants, and how schools can retain talented classroom educators, please fill out our form below to download the full whitepaper.