We cannot help but notice that many highly qualified and experienced teachers are turning to supply teaching, having made the decision to leave permanent teaching jobs to change career.

Further investigation tells us in fact teachers are leaving the profession in droves. It’s hard to ignore these statistics:

  • 50% of teachers quit teaching within their first 5 years.
  • 84% of teachers admit to feeling demoralised and de-professionalised.
  • 50% of current teachers have seriously considered leaving in the last year.
  • Almost half of qualified teachers in the country are no longer teaching.

So to sum up these statistics: Half of all teachers are leaving the profession and 84% of those left feel demoralised.

There’s no way of brushing this issue under the carpet. It’s as clear as day. Teachers are not happy. As a result the UK is losing excellent, highly skilled and committed professionals in their thousands.

Therefore we decided to ask teachers registered with teachweb what the real reasons are behind them wanting to get out of the profession.

As expected, they told us stress and bureaucracy are top of their list. Also, the huge number of changes being forced upon them. Here’s a rundown of some of their comments:

“The unbelievably harsh regime of observations we have to endure.”

“Ofsted has created a new pressure. Now it wants everyone to be ‘outstanding’. My school seems to think that anything else isn’t good enough.”

“This pressure to be “outstanding” has led head teachers to implement their own systems of stress-inducing observations. There used to be a maximum limit to the number of observations a few years ago. Unfortunately for us this has now been removed.”

“In most schools observations are ‘no notice observations’. This means the head will just walk into any lesson without warning, observe it and give the teacher a grade.”

In theory, the possibility of any lesson being observed will lead to improved standards, as teachers will meticulously plan every lesson.

In reality though, teachers are reduced to quivering wrecks with the constant fear of observation upon them. Many work themselves into the ground making sure every lesson is of observation-quality, as if they don’t have enough to work to do.

Are you thinking of leaving the teaching profession? We would welcome your comments”

Rick Smallwood, Founder teachweb supply teaching agency
Rick Smallwood, founder, teachweb

About the Author: Rick Smallwood is a former chemistry teacher and founder of leading London and the South East supply teaching agency teachweb. He has a proven track record of matching the right teachers to the right vacancy.

One thought on “The uncomfortable truth: Why teachers are turning to supply teaching

  1. Hi, I have been teaching for 10 years and quickly progressed up the ranks. I was always highly regarded in schools that I worked and was a model professional. Recently however, I have started to feel more and more demoralises by the constant and unforgiving demand that has placed so much pressure on me that it has take. Over my life. I am planning to the nth degree every night till at least 1.30am and assessing kids work endlessly. The pressure is now so immense that it has impacted on my personality. I’m a confident guy but I am no longer happy. I am snappy and tired all the time. The constant pressure of making sure every kid achieves is killing me. the constant changes to the goal posts now mean I am no longer an outstanding practitioner. I simply cannot sustain working at that level otherwise I will end up having a nervous break down. But, if I let standards slip- I can’t help but feel that my job is on the line and being a dad with three young children I have no choice but to slave my guys off. People in industry have no idea if the demand this job has. Teachers have no support- it’s a growing blame culture where you are vindicated for not being 500% commited. You are frowned upon for not being a yes man. you are not allowed to challenge senior leaders for crazy administration which in turn impact on your teaching. You have to deal with endless variables that are completely beyond your control. My life is nothing but teaching and If I decide to even take the foot slightly off the pedal- I know what will happen at school. Education in the UK is a mess.


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