Education news

Workload is out of control and driving teachers out of profession, union says

Two in every five teachers surveyed said they did not see themselves in the profession in the near future

TWO in every five teachers predict they will leave the classroom by 2024 due to excessive workload, a survey has found.

The National Education Union's (NEU) annual conference, which is taking place in Liverpool, heard that work-life balance was getting worse.

Government was slow to acknowledge the "crisis of obsessive hyper-accountability, excessive data accumulation and inputting, excessive reporting, unnecessary bureaucracy and unproductive overwrought scrutiny".

Workload and accountability were the main reasons staff had taken industrial action in Northern Ireland, the union said.

The conference looked at the findings of a survey in which many teachers said they did not see themselves working in education in the near future.

Two-fifths of respondents predicted they would quit by 2024 while 18 per cent expected to be gone within two years.

About one in three said they expected to be in the same role, while 10 per cent would seek a promotion.

NEU said a startling 26 per cent of those with between two and five years' experience intended to leave.

When asked why, workload (62 per cent) and accountability (40 per cent) were the main reasons.

Respondents also left comments as part of the survey. These included:

:: My job is no longer about children. It's just a 60-hour week with pressure to push children's achievement data through.

:: Exhausted and fed up with the hours I have to maintain in order to keep abreast of paperwork demands. I love the teaching but have grown tired of how relentless the job has become.

:: With a young family, and despite working part-time, I have come to realise that a job in education is not conducive to family life.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents believed their work-life balance had got worse in the past year. The deterioration was noticeably worse for senior leadership.

NEU Northern Ireland regional secretary Mark Langhammer said government had not solved the issue of excessive workload.

"Successive ministers and senior civil servants make the right noises about fixing the problem, but little has been achieved," he said.

"The fundamental problem, as the results of our survey shows, is one of excessive accountability brought on by the DE (DfE in England) and ETI (Ofsted in England). The blame is at their door. So long as the main drivers of a crude performance-based system are still in place, schools will continue to be in the grip of a culture of fear, results at all costs, micro-scrutiny, and a lack of trust.

"We need drastic action and a major rethink from government if we are to stop the haemorrhaging of good teachers from the profession and to prevent a chill factor in taking up senior leadership roles. It continues to be a case of fiddling at the edges."

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