As we approach the end of the year, it’s always shocking to see how many NQTs are leaving the profession before they have started. As many as one in four newly qualified teachers leave in the first 3 years.
Perhaps the speed at which teachers hit the ground running plays a part. With budget pressure on classroom cover and continued professional development (CPD), NQTs take on a full class and 50+ hour-a-week workload from day one with precious little non-contact time or mentor support. On average, teachers work 54 hours per week and a quarter of teachers work more than 60 hours per week. 38% of teachers say they have an ‘Unmanageable workload’. England and Sweden’s teachers have the highest hours and poorest pay. By 2019 the public sector pay cap of 1% will equate to a pay cut of 5% for teachers in real terms due to inflation.
Why are working conditions so important?
Peter Sellen, Chief Economist at the Education Policy Institute speaking at the Inside Government conference in June 2017 proposed that preparing teachers better will help retention. He pointed out that attrition rate of teachers declines over time as their experience increases.
At the coal face, the hope is that NQTs should understand the evidence enough to stop doing the ineffective tasks.
How can we proactively approach the attrition problem at a national level?
In short, or teachers as a demographic, are inexperienced and underpaid. To affect this, the job:
- must be easier and
- must be more enjoyable.
We need to prepare our teachers better.
Would a longer induction help?
Also at the Inside Government conference, Sir Andrew Carter OBE announced a new strategy to be consulted upon soon: that of a 2-year NQT induction. The intention of strengthening the QTS in this way is to improve retention by better preparing NQTs for the pressures of teaching.
Firstly, it’s important to note that this would not be an excuse to pay new teachers less. By offering two years of support:
- NQTs have more non-contact time to shadow experienced teachers
- NQTs have more mandatory CPD sessions, including behaviour management and workload management
- NQTs may be more established with a support network and stay at the school
To give an comparison, Shanghai teachers have 40 days of CPD per year and the international average is 11. We have 4.
The model may be that after the first year, NQTs will have achieved QTS level 1 and will achieve level 2 after the second year.
This ‘strengthened’ NQT process will form part of the planning for the new teaching apprenticeship, which is also currently under construction!
If this is the end of your NQT year, well done. My top tips are ‘start as you mean to go on’, particularly when it comes to having some evenings and at least one weekend day off per week. Good luck!
About the author
Katie Newell BA(Hons) PGCE is an ex-primary school teacher, Head of Maths, Head of Year five and languages specialist. Katie qualified in Psychology at Liverpool then specialised in Primary Languages for her PGCE at Reading. Before teaching, Katie was a financial commentator and is now the Content Manager for eteach.com and fejobs.com. Katie feels passionately that teachers are the unsung heroes of society; that opening minds to creative timetabling could revolutionise keeping women in teaching, and that a total change to pupil feedback is the key to solving the work life balance issue for the best job in the world.