Experienced staff exodus survey

We commissioned a poll which has revealed that schools are set to suffer an ‘experience exodus’ by 2020 and beyond.

In the 794 strong representative sample of teachers polled online by YouGov, 34% said they expect to leave in the next 1-5 years. A further 22% said they expect to leave teaching in 6-20 years.

By using the school workforce statistics from 2014, we can calculate that approximately 154,000 teachers will need to be recruited in England alone by 2020 merely to keep teacher numbers at the same level, unless efforts are made to successfully retain these staff. Given that pupil numbers have been forecast to rise by around 615,000 between 2015 and 2020, recruitment pressures may be even more considerable. If 2014's pupil teacher ratio of 17:1 is to be maintained, a further 36,176 extra teachers will also need to be found by 2020. This means that more than 190,000 new teachers may need to be recruited to teach the incoming generation of baby boomers unless more of the existing, experienced teachers, can be persuaded to stay.

An Education Support Partnership calculation based on the poll found that just 21% of teachers with 11 and upwards years of experience expect to retire in the next 1-5 years. Overall, more teachers said they would leave because of push factors, rather than retirement. Such factors influencing a decision to depart were: excessive workloads (40%), unreasonable demands from line managers (24%), the rapid pace of organisational change (18%) and student behaviour (13%).

The prominence of push factors suggests two important points. Firstly, that the exodus of valuable, experienced teachers may be delayed if these factors are addressed. Secondly, as a result, many teachers may no longer view teaching as a job that they can or should do for life. Unless it can be reversed, this possible change in perception could mean that Governments and schools get a much smaller return from their investments in teacher recruitment and training in the future.

Unless more staff can be persuaded to stay, future students may be taught by teachers with significantly less teaching experience overall.

In the poll, teachers selected the following factors to explain why they would leave their education setting in the future:

  • Retirement (45%)
  • 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%)

Responding to the results, our CEO Julian Stanley said: “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.

“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 Education Support Partnership 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.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 796 teaching professionals in England and Wales. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the England and Wales school population.