Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Is the grass greener beyond teaching? Longitudinal analysis of teachers leaving the profession

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Day:Thu 4 Jul
  • Jack Worth, National Foundation for Educational Research

The issues of teacher recruitment and retention have recently moved up the education policy agenda in England as a result of rising pupil numbers, shortfalls in the number of new trainee teachers and increases in the proportion of teachers leaving the profession. We use innovative analysis of longitudinal Understanding Society data to analyse the factors associated with teachers’ decisions to leave the profession. We track teachers for several years after they leave teaching, to see what they do next and what that can tell us about their motivation for leaving.

We find that the pay of those who leave teaching is 10 per cent less than it was as a teacher, suggesting that teachers’ decisions to leave the profession are not strongly motivated by the prospect of higher pay outside teaching. The job satisfaction of teachers who leave and take up a new job improves considerably after leaving and job satisfaction falls in the years before teachers leave, indicating that job satisfaction is a far more important motivation for leaving. We also find that many secondary school teachers who leave teaching switch from full-time to part-time work, which suggests that there is substantial unmet demand for part-time work among secondary teachers.

This research evidence has been used extensively by the UK Government to inform its 2019 teacher recruitment and retention strategy.