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Less money but more job satisfaction for teachers who leave, study says

Unions claim staff are buckling under the pressure of excessive workload

TEACHERS who leave the profession are happier in their jobs but tend to earn less, a study has found.

Research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) suggested that higher earnings were not the main reason for quitting the classroom.

It concluded that teachers were more motivated by the prospect of working fewer hours and better job satisfaction.

Unions in Northern Ireland are engaged in industrial action over pay and conditions claiming many staff are buckling under the pressure of excessive workload.

A conference organised by the NASUWT last week heard that workload was the biggest barrier to young teachers making the profession their career.

The NFER research - Is the Grass Greener Beyond Teaching? - urged policymakers aiming to increase teacher retention to focus on improving job satisfaction, and tackling workload and long hours.

The study found that on average, teachers who quit teaching and took up a new job earned about 10 per cent less a month than they did when in the classroom.

At the same time, the researchers found that the job satisfaction of those who left teaching increased after they left, and that their job satisfaction had been declining before they left.

"This suggests that low job satisfaction was an important factor contributing to their decision to leave," the study said.

It also found that teachers who left for another job tended, on average, to work fewer hours a week. This was driven by more take-up of part-time jobs, especially among former secondary teachers.

The findings showed that a large proportion of those who left continued working in education, for example moving to the private sector or non-teaching roles in schools.

"Our analysis shows that, on average, teachers' pay does not increase after they leave, suggesting leavers are not primarily motivated by increased pay. Instead, leavers appear to be more motivated by improved job satisfaction, reduced working hours and more opportunities for flexible working."

Jack Worth, a senior economist at NFER, said the research showed how teachers' lives changed after leaving and taking up a new job.

"Most working-age teachers who leave are not leaving for higher paid jobs, but they are prioritising their job satisfaction and well-being," he added.

"This does not necessarily imply that increasing teachers' pay will have no impact on teacher retention, but policy responses that aim to increase teacher retention need to consider pay alongside other factors, such as teachers' workload, working hours and job satisfaction."

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