Teachers' Exit Decisions: An Investigation into the Reasons Why Newly Qualified Teachers Fail to Enter the Teaching Profession or Why Those Who Do Enter Do Not Continue Teaching

Oct. 01, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 43, (October, 2014), p. 37-45.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study explores the motives for teacher attrition of newly qualified teachers who never started a teaching career and those dropping out after a short period.
The article addresses to the following research questions:
(1) Does teacher attrition vary according to personal variables such as having actual experience with teaching or not, gender or type of teaching qualification?
(2) What motives do certified teachers have for their exit attrition?
(3) Do the nature and importance of motives differ according to whether or not students have experience in teaching and does this distinction remain after controlling for other personal variables (gender and type of teaching qualification)?

A large-scale survey study was conducted in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
The participants were 154 teachers with teaching experience and 81 teachers without teaching experience.


The analyses identified five reasons for exit attrition: ‘job satisfaction and relations with students’, ‘school management and support’, ‘workload’, ‘future prospect’ and ‘relations with parents’.

The findings demonstrated that a lack of future prospects was the predominant reason for attrition. Plausibly, many of the respondents, usually in their twenties, are building an independent adult lives.
An insecure or part-time position might be viewed as insufficient to comply with these expectations and aspirations.
Furthermore, attrition differs according to gender, teaching degree and teachers' experience.
Results reveal that exit attrition is highest for males and secondary school teachers.
The authors claim that for a part of the students in the secondary school teacher track, teaching is considered as a fall-back career.
Consequently, a larger part of these students might choose not to pursue this career, despite graduating.

In addition, the results reveal that only for ‘job satisfaction and student relations’ no significant differences between the two groups was found.
The authors say that a plausible explanation for these results might be the nature of the experience of students during their pre-service internships.
In most cases, students are primarily focussed on their role as a classroom teacher during these internships, thus providing them with concrete experiences with job satisfaction and student relations.

However, they probably only came into contact with the impact of school management or parents to a lesser degree during their internship.
Similarly, during internships the workload is controlled for students in order to maximize the learning experience.
Finally, the experience of a limited prospect for a career does not apply to the context of an internship.
The authors conclude that it is not surprising that the saliency of the latter motives changes after starting a career, whereas that of job satisfaction and student relations does not.

Updated: Jun. 02, 2015