events archive

Teacher recruitment crisis: why do great teachers quit?

7:00pm, Monday 20 March, The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT

Figures suggest that teachers are leaving the profession in unprecedented numbers. Surveys also tell us that over half of teachers have thought seriously about quitting their job at some point over the past three years. But why are teachers abandoning the profession in such numbers and are they right to do so?

Right now, most staff rooms ooze with a sense of anger, frustration and demoralisation. Teachers complain about a lack of respect and the ‘ever-increasing immorality of our education system’. The obsession with data, spreadsheets and a tickbox culture has led many to make the profound and painful decision to leave. A sense of helplessness in the face of budget cuts, an increasing workload and and the erosion of professional autonomy via micro-management and performance assessments, as well as ever-increasing bureaucracy, have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for some. For others, it is appalling pupil behaviour, triple marking, the after-hours support sessions (euphemistically known as interventions) and burnout. It feels to many that teaching is a broken profession: cowed, atomised and dejected by the unfair burden placed upon it.

This Education Forum event aims to explore what is really behind the retention crisis and will seek to work out how best to defend the noble aim of teaching. Questions we intend to debate include:

· Is the retention crisis a symptom of a broader collapse of meaning and purpose across education?
· If we perceive teaching as a moral activity, with transcendent aims and qualities, would fewer teachers quit?
· Put another way, if we really thought of teaching as noble vocation, would fewer teachers quit?
· Is it time for teachers to stand up for what they believe in, stop giving up, fight back and rediscover their sense of moral purpose?
· To paraphrase a recent education article, is it true that ‘great teachers don’t quit’? Or do such noble sentiments not cut it at the coal face?
· Finally, why do many teachers think teaching is still the best job in the world?

Listen to the introductory remarks