Concern over number of Suffolk teachers choosing to retire early
PUBLISHED: 08:55 28 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:41 28 January 2013
INCREASING pressures in the classroom and government-imposed changes contributed to the decision by 350 teachers in three years to take early retirement in Suffolk, union chiefs claimed this week.
The NUT voiced its concern at the figures, saying it had resulted in the county – struggling near the bottom of national Key Stage Two and GCSE league tables – losing a “massive amount” of experience.
It also claimed that the county’s School Organisation Review (SOR), which has seen middle schools in Waveney axed in favour of a two-tier system, had forced many teachers to leave the profession early.
But Suffolk County Council has played down the figures, saying they were not a major concern.
Graham White, Suffolk NUT branch secretary, said a combination of budget cuts and changes imposed by the government was prompting many teachers to quit the profession.
He said: “The situation is that all teachers are facing increased stress and with everything that’s going on from the government, teachers are saying ‘I want out – I have had enough’. In Suffolk, that is compounded by SOR.
“Middle school staff are being made redundant and many in their mid-50s are taking early retirement. We are losing a massive amount of experienced and influential staff – that’s a great shame.”
The news comes just days after national league tables placed Suffolk 142nd out of 151 local authorities for students gaining five or more grade A*-C GCSEs including English and maths, and in December, the county’s primary schools fell to third from bottom in the league tables for Key Stage Two (11-plus).
The retirement figures, revealed in the Commons by schools minister David Laws, show that between 2008/9 and 2010/11, 350 teachers in Suffolk left the profession ahead of the statutory retirement age.
Graham Newman, Suffolk cabinet member for education and young people, said the increase in teachers taking early retirement was in line with the national trend and “reflects the age profile of the workforce in schools”.
He said: “It is not overly concerning, and while SOR may have helped some teachers to decide on a date for early retirement, many would have been considering it regardless.
“We have kept schools fully staffed during re-organisation and have seen results at age 11 across re-organised areas improving during the process and improve significantly afterwards.”