Student research reveals why teachers are quitting their jobs

Unmanageable workloads, disillusionment and lack of praise are some of the reasons why an increasing number of teachers are quitting their jobs, according to research by a Staffordshire University student.

Georgina Newton, who is originally from Ilam in the Staffordshire Moorlands and now lives in Rugby, carried out research into teacher retention during her MA Education studies at Staffordshire University and surveyed nearly 250 teachers for the project.

Georgina worked as a teacher for 20 years before starting her Masters and has a personal and professional interest in teacher retention. She explained: “In my last few years of teaching I saw more and more people leaving. It was heart-breaking because a lot of them hadn't lost their love for teaching itself, it was other pressures which go with the job that made them quit.”

“I wanted to look at why this was happening and identify which teachers are in the 'danger zone' to find out what might prevent even more people quitting.”

It has been reported that 40% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years and Georgina’s study investigates what makes teachers quit but also what can be done to encourage them to stay in the profession.

Workload, lack of praise and disillusionment are cited as the biggest “push” and the study suggests that the group of teachers most likely to quit in the next two years comprises females between the ages of 30 and 39.

Many teachers said they would like to work more flexibly and other improvement factors identified were better relationships with leadership teams and experiencing a greater sense of appreciation and value.

“Everybody I surveyed recommended that more recognition and feeling that they are valued would make them more likely to stay teaching.” Georgina commented.

“This is something that doesn't cost any money. If leadership teams adopt this behaviour then they could make a real difference.”

Georgina also suggests that leadership teams in schools should develop sustainable patterns of working for part time staff and those with caring responsibilities outside of school.

Other recommendations include change from within government and advises policy makers to develop a system which uses the Teacher Registration Number (TRN) to track which schools are losing the most teachers from the education system.

Georgina is concerned that if there is an increase in selection of schools then teachers will migrate to the selective sector or private 11+ tuition.

She said: “We're facing one of the biggest teaching crises we've ever had. If there is an increase in choice of schools alongside the teaching shortage then comprehensive schools will really struggle.”
Having completed her graduate studies with distinction Georgina will graduate next summer and she now works as a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick.

Last month, Georgina (pictured) presented her research findings to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education at Westminster Palace and was accompanied by Lecturer in Education Sharon Inglis.

Sharon said: “Georgina's presentation was extremely well received by the All Party Parliamentary Group, particularly those organisations concerned with teacher well-being and welfare. We're really proud of her achievements!”

Georgina added: “It's nice to know that the dissertation isn't just sitting on a shelf. Hopefully it is on its way to changing policy and making a difference.”

Find out more about studying with Staffordshire University's School of Education here.