Should I stay or should I go - How can we stop STEM teachers quitting the profession

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Today, the National Foundation for Educational Research published a report reiterating an age old problem with our education system… too many STEM teachers are leaving the profession!

The evidence shows that more than one in ten teachers quit the profession, often to work in better paid roles and lower stress levels. This is problem is particularly pronounced amongst STEM teachers. Every year from 2010 to 2015:

  • 10.4% of Science teachers;

  • 10.3% of Maths teachers; and 

  • 10% of Technology teachers quit.

These statistics confirm what the manufacturing industry has been saying all along, there are not enough STEM teachers teaching STEM subjects in state-funded schools today.

But why is it important to the manufacturing industry?

A basic level of Maths is a requirement for any new entrant into manufacturing whether through an apprenticeship, full-time employment or other form of training. However, we do not think the current approach to improving basic skills (continuous resitting of exams for those that fail to achieve the grades first time) is the best way forward and is a distraction from one of the major problems – the quality of teaching in our schools.

As our manifesto states, the government must ensure the best teachers are teaching STEM subjects in the worst performing schools across the country. This is integral to having 16 year olds leaving schools with the right skills and ensure a sustainable pipeline of talent required for manufacturers.

The government must therefore at least commit to meeting its recruitment target for STEM teachers, but also make every effort to retain them.

Analysis by the National Audit Office shows the Department for Education has spent £620 million on bursaries to attract graduates into teaching, with a further £334 million to be spent in 2015/16 and 2016/17 in a bid to increase quality. The bursaries includes providing up to £30,000 for physics graduates who had graduated with a First in their degree.

However as the NFER evidence shows today, they are not remaining in the profession over the long term after achieving qualified teacher status (QTS). In our manifesto we are calling on government to use existing funding, currently used to encourage teachers into the profession through bursaries, to be directed towards encouraging teachers to stay within the profession. We propose for graduates receiving a bursary to stay in the school workforce for a minimum period of 2 years after achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

EEF’s view is clear; being able to recruit apprentices and graduates with the right skills for manufacturers is vital to growing a sustainable workforce with the ability to adapt to the 4th Industrial Revolution and fulfil growth ambitions. Failure to tackle these fundamental issues in schools today will only lead to a further exacerbation of the skills shortage problem.

 

Author

Education and Skills Policy Advisor

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