Teachers all over the world are under much more pressure to get their students to perform well on tests in an environment of reduced resources and larger classes. At the same time they are having to fulfil extra managerial, entrepreneurial and administrative tasks, familiarise themselves with new reporting technologies and requirements, and even foster business partnerships. In such a situation they have little time for professional development and reading.
The material effects on individual teachers can be gauged from the statistics relating to the rising rates of teacher stress, burn-out, cynicism and resignation that have been the impetus behind the numerous government and academic inquiries into the teaching force.
One in two teachers in the US don't stay in the profession for more than five years.
A study by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimated that cost of escalating teacher turnover as $7 billion in the 2003-4 school year. Around 500,000 teachers leave the profession each year and teachers have to be recruited and trained to replace them. Well over 90 percent of teachers surveyed in the US believed the NCLB Act with its various requirements was contributing to “teacher burnout”.
In a survey of 900 teachers by Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates 40 percent said they were disheartened with teaching. Disheartened teachers generally believe teaching is “so demanding, it’s a wonder that more people don’t burn out". 87% of disheartened teachers are over 33.
In New Zealand, the changes in teaching role and the increased administrative workload have led to declining job satisfaction, and increased teacher turnover.
In NSW, Australia, teachers accounted for almost half the stress payments in 2003 for all government employees.
In the UK teachers have also been deserting the profession in droves. In 2005 only 60 percent of qualified teachers remained in the profession three years after graduating. The number of teachers retiring early from the profession increased dramatically in the five years to 2006. The National Union of Teachers claims that one in three teachers have suffered mental health problems because of the stress of the job, where they are assessed on the basis of their students performance.
To deal with the work overload faced by teachers and the rapid rise in teacher defections from the profession, the Labour Government has funded a dramatic increase in non-qualified teacher support staff in schools. These classroom assistants are cheaper than qualified teachers, yet they are being used in some cases to teach classes instead of teachers and in 2003 school principals were given the ‘flexibility’ to hire non-qualified teachers to perform teaching duties. Nevertheless, teachers have not seen any significant reduction in their workloads.
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