The stresses of teaching are hard enough, especially in political and economic climates where resources and funding for schools and salaries have been a low priority. Many teachers today find themselves unable to provide an adequate learning environment for their classes.
Now, a new study shows that these stresses may be bringing teachers to their breaking point and that many new teachers consider leaving within ten years of starting out due to the nature of the workload and the emphasis on accountability.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) Institute of Education conducted the study, and the results were published in the British Journal of Educational Studies.
“The general response from government is that teaching will be improved by reducing workload, removing unnecessary tasks and increasing pay,” the researchers said. “This may help, and our study does continue the discourse that workload is key. However, it also indicates that part of the problem lies within the culture of teaching, the constant scrutiny, the need to perform, and hyper-critical management.”
1,200 new teachers who had graduated from the UCL Institute of Education were surveyed on their attitudes toward teaching, what motivated them to start teaching, and why they left or if they were considering leaving the profession in future.
69 percent of the participants said that wanting to make a difference helped them choose teaching as a career, 64 percent said they were motivated to work with children, and 50 percent said they did it for the love of a subject.
Unfortunately, once the participants started teaching, between 40 and 50 percent said they had left or were considering leaving within ten years of teacher training.
The drive and passion to teach were quickly overpowered by a challenging workload and constant pressure from assessments, exam preparation, and inspections.
71 percent of the participants listed workload as a reason for leaving or wanting to leave and 75 percent said they wanted a better work/life balance.
“It’s not as if they weren’t aware that teaching was going to be demanding. However, they feel that the demands of the job outstrip their capacity to adapt,” the researchers said in their study. “This raises the question: what can be done to arrest this trend?”