Findings from the “Why Teach?” Report

In late October, Pearson and lkmco published a long-awaited report titled “Why Teach?” The idea behind the report was to better understand the motivational drivers that draw people to the profession in relation to those that keep them there. Teachers’ attitude towards their own profession were explored as well as regional differences in results.

The report itself is worth reading in full but say you’re in a profession where you don’t have time to read a 52 page report, something like teaching maybe, here are the main points:

1. The main reason people get into teaching is to make a difference to pupils’ lives.

It turns out that once you look beyond the good pension and the summer holidays, the real reason most teachers do it is for the genuine objective of making a difference. Closely followed, interestingly, was “Thought I would be good at it” and “Subject interest”. “Quality of Leadership and Management” brought up the rear.

2. Teachers of humanities and arts value subject interest more than their STEM counterparts

82% of History, Music, and MFL teachers placed subject interest as a ‘very important’ factor in their decision to become a teacher whereas Science, Maths, and ICT was only 55%. The report explains this gap via the availability of more lucrative and appealing career options within the STEM subjects.

3. Of the people who would recommend teaching to their younger self, only two thirds would also recommend it to their children

Even though over half of the teachers surveyed said they would support their younger selves becoming as teacher, only a third would recommend it to their children. Maybe teachers have less faith in their children than themselves!

4. Pay, holidays, being well qualified, and needing a job keep people in teaching

It turns out that the reasons teachers stay in the profession are quite different than the reasons they got involved. The aforementioned benefits like pay and holiday start to become serious factors, as does the qualifications and experience built up over the career.

5. The main reason people leave teaching is workload

Way out in the lead of why people left teaching was “the workload is too high”. Of the teachers surveyed, a staggering 76% said that workload issues would be a reason for leaving. To put that in comparison, every other reason was under half the teachers surveyed. Interestingly, the second biggest reason - unhappy with leaders and management (43%) – saw a big divide depending on in which phase you taught. Primary saw an average of 24% whereas secondary was 46%!

6. CPD is most important to 25-34 year olds.

Unsurprisingly, as you move up the age ranges the desire for CPD gets less and less important. Only 46% of 55+ year olds saw the availability of CPD as an influential factor in moving jobs compared to 73% for 25-34 year olds. 

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