Some 47,700 teachers left their jobs in the year 2010-11, up from 40,070 in 2009-10, according to Schools Minister David Laws. That is around one in five.
The government said the figures were provisional, so it could not say whether they showed a long-term trend. But until last year, the figures, from the database of teacher records, showed a fall in the number of qualified teachers leaving the profession over the previous five years.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: “To get school standards to rise, we need more and better teachers. But David Cameron and Michael Gove are threatening standards as on their watch thousands more are quitting the profession. It’s no wonder given teacher morale is so low and Michael Gove insults teachers, calling them ‘whingers’.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said “Teaching is now a more attractive profession than ever. We are attracting the brightest trainees with the biggest bursaries for priority subjects and we’ve put teachers back in charge of the classroom by giving them powers to tackle poor behaviour,” she said.
Teaching unions blamed low morale:
Chris Keates, of the NASUWT, said: “These figures come as no surprise; they confirm the findings of a recent NASUWT survey which showed that 84% of teachers felt demoralised and de-professionalised and that over 50% of teachers had seriously considered leaving the profession in the previous 12 months.
“The government cannot mount a relentless assault on the teaching profession and expect that they will stay around to be further abused if they have any chance to leave.
“These figures are not only of concern to the profession, but also to parents, children and young people who are losing dedicated and experienced teachers.”
Christine Blower, of the NUT, added: “It is hardly surprising that some teachers are voting with their feet and leaving the profession.
“A combination of pension cuts, pay freezes, an ever increasing workload and continual inspection and criticism from government at every turn will make retention of teachers increasingly difficult.
“We know that teachers really enjoy the job they do in the classroom. It’s a great job, but teachers need support not persistent and undermining criticism”.