An 'experience exodus' looms as a third of all teachers plan to leave in the next five years

Date Wed, 15/07/2015 


New research commissioned by the Teacher Support Network, a not for profit dedicated to school teachers and all staff in FE and HE, is warning of what the charity is calling an ‘experience exodus’ in the education sector, as 34% of all teachers plan to leave the profession in 1- 5 years’ time, 54% of whom will do so to retire. 

The research was conducted by YouGov with a sample of 796 teachers across all levels of experience; from NQT through to those who have been teaching for 20 years plus. Push factors influencing a likely departure in any given time frame included; excessive workloads (40%), unreasonable demands from line managers (24%), the rapid pace of organisational change (18%) and student behaviour (13%). 

In addition to the 34% planning on remaining in teaching for only another 1 to 5 years, a further 22% expected to be leaving teaching in 6 – 20 years, and 10% planned to continue to teach for 20 years plus.

These trends illustrate a shift, for many, away from the concept of teaching as a job for life, and also represent a very real exodus of valuable, experienced teachers from UK schools. This appears to contradict the recent hopes voiced by Baroness Warnock and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan for retirees to help stem the teacher shortage crisis by returning to or even retraining for the classroom.

The research discovered that retirement was a key reason for planned departure from the profession in the next five years for 21% of those with 11 years and upwards of teaching experience.  Whilst the retirement of an older teacher (ie one with 30 years’ experience) would not be hugely surprising, this research suggests that nearly one in ten (9%) of those with 11 to 20 years’ experience are seeking to retire in the next 5 years. Assuming these teachers qualified in their early 20s, they would potentially be 'retiring' as early as their 30's or 40's.

The early departure of existing qualified and highly experienced talent is something that CEO of the Teacher Support Network Julian Stanley explains will damage the education sector as a whole: “Our research points to an exodus of talent from a profession in which it is needed more than ever before, with these findings representing many thousands of years of experience simply walking out of school gates.  Retention of experienced teachers into the later years of their careers, although often more expensive than their younger counterparts,  is vital in order for schools to hold onto a vast knowledge base that not only benefits pupils but also helps to mentor, support and help retain new teachers in their formative years.”

The main motivation for eventual departure for all teachers was retirement, with 45% citing this as a factor influencing respondents expecting to leave their current education settings.  Other reasons (of which respondents could choose as many as they wished) for leaving the profession included;

  • Excessive Workload (40%)
  • Unreasonable demands from managers (24%)
  • Pay / Pensions (19%)
  • Rapid pace of organisational change (18%)
  • Student behaviour (13%)
  • Attraction of working outside the education sector (13%)
  • Attraction of other roles within the education sector (12%)
  • Physical health concerns (9%)
  • Mental Health concerns (9%)
  • Commitments as a parent (8%)
  • Bullying by colleagues (6%)
  • Personal Issues (5%)
  • Redundancy (4%)
  • Commitments as a carer (2%)
  • Other (9%)
  • Don’t Know (7%)

CEO of the Teacher Support Network Julian Stanley explains “This research provides insights of frustratingly familiar negative influences; high workload, unreasonable demands from line managers, poor student behaviour, the rapid pace of organisational change for example. Each of these is a regular topic of discussion on the Teacher Support Network helpline and so their appearance in this research is unsurprising. However, what is shocking is that these problems have still not been addressed. If we are to stem the tide of departures, the culture in schools must change from one of fear to proactively engaging with teachers as highly competent professionals who deserve a high level of respect, support and professional development. In short we must love our teachers or lose them forever.”

Teacher Support Network and Recourse give people working in education the support they need to feel at their best, while Worklife Support give organisations the support they need to engage and energise their teams. In September 2015, they are merging to create a single entity charity: Education Support Partnership. For more information, go to

For more information contact or 07563 267907