How old were you when you started teaching? Was it a continuous route from school to university and back to school, or did you work in another job first?
Traditionally, teaching is a career where many have worked in other professions first. Often an unfulfilling career is the catalyst for retraining as a teacher, perhaps coupled with a desire for longer holidays and therefore good work life balance.
True enough, teaching should be and can be a hugely rewarding career. You are able to use your degree to make a real difference to people’s lives. Education IS the great liberator.
Despite this, teachers are leaving the profession, or considering doing so, like never before. A YouGov poll in 2016 found that half of all teachers are thinking of leaving in the next two years. Typically, the accountability agenda and the government’s ineffectual action on teacher workload are reasons given for leaving.
In addition, not enough graduates are not signing up for secondary teacher. It’s several years since PGCE courses hit their recruitment targets and the majority of LAs now have teacher shortages.
Last year I heard a story of burnt out city bankers retraining as teachers but then returning to banking when they realised the hours were shorter (presumably the City salaries did help in those particular cases). Spending half the (unpaid) Christmas holidays working isn’t what former graphic designers thought they were signing up to either. That’s another job that I’ve heard of teachers returning to. New teachers arrive with a vocation and leave with chronic fatigue, depression and disillusionment.
We have a dedicated bank of teachers, former teachers and future teachers in this country who want to make a difference to children and young people’s lives. Often these are graduates who have given up an established and lucrative career to help young people excel. Sadly, the desire to help our young people is too frequently wiped out by the ridiculous burden of workload and accountability. We are now running out of teachers. Something has to give if we want to get them into the classroom, and keep them there.

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