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Why do so many new teachers leave teaching?

When I was teaching in the 80s, 90s and 00s, teacher recruitment was a chronic problem, especially in inner-city areas. Recruitment is not the problem anymore. Now it’s retention and has been for a few years. Some years, 25-30% of new teachers who only qualified within four or five years of starting are packing up and saying ‘I’ve had enough of this!’

The reasons are often complex but that kind of churn is a colossal waste of resources for everyone concerned. We know that perceived lack of support for new teachers in the early stages of their career is a crucial factor in why they leave – especially the lack of opportunity to engage in professional development out of the classroom and away from the kids.

Teachers in the UK are not legally or formally required to engage in professional development as part of maintaining their professional status, though many other professions are.

If you are a solicitor or a nurse or an optician for example, you are required to submit evidence of your continued professional development on a regular basis in order to maintain registration with your professional body. Failing to do so would result - potentially - in you being removed from the professional register and losing your right to practice.

In many ways, it’s perfectly understandable why that’s the case. The public expect us to stay on top of our game and keep up with new research, developments and initiatives that feed into best practice. Our employers do, our colleagues do and even the children do too – though I don’t suppose you’ll see many of them come into your class asking have you done any professional development lately!

There’s been a debate in teaching about this for years but for a variety of reasons compulsory, legally required cpd has not been imposed.

Now however, the government is making a new offer to newly qualified (NQT) and recently qualified (RQT) teachers – it’s called the Early Career Framework (ECF). It’s worth taking note of the new statutory entitlements you’ll have from September 2021 and how they differ from the old ‘induction’ system.

Old ‘Induction’ system New ‘Early Career Framework’

Length of support One year only Two full years

Timetable reduction 10% reduction for 1 year 10% reduction in year one, then;

5% reduction in year two.

Content No required content Defined content includes:

behaviour management, pedagogy,

curriculum, assessment and

professional behaviours.

Role of the mentor No required mentor You get support from a personal

mentor for two years.

Assessment 3 formal assessment 2 formal assessment points

points against the against the Teachers’ Standards

Teachers’ Standards (not the content of the ECF).

during the year.

Funding No school-specific funds Schools get specific funding to

deliver the ECF for NQTs & RQTs

Pay Teachers can progress You can progress up the pay

up the pay scale once scale even before completing

they pass ‘induction’. NQT and RQT years.

Role of the ‘Appropriate Body’

To check NQTs get their To check NQTs & RQTs received

entitlement and are their full entitlement to

assessed fairly. all the provision of the ECF.

If you’re looking for your first teaching job or just taking the next step up the ladder, make sure the school you go to is fully committed to what you’re entitled to from next September. It’s not only going to be a professional requirement, it’s going to a legal entitlement too.

Hopefully, that will keep you motivated and inspired as a new teacher and that you’ll stay in the job longer than four or five years.

I hope so!

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for over a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures and writes on professional values in teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk.

His new book: ‘Becoming a teacher – the legal, ethical and moral implications of entering society’s most fundamental profession’ will be published by Crown House Publishing this summer and can be ordered here.

You may be interested in his course in ‘The Foundations of Professionalism in Teaching’– which deals with issues of professionalism and your entitlement and commitment to cpd. It comprises a 3-module course that covers professional ethics and values, with over 4.5 hours of HD quality video presentations, additional course reading and materials, self-assessment exercises and completion certificates – ideal for showing evidence that you have completed cpd on ‘wider professional responsibilities’.



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