Retention and intention in teaching careers: will the new generation stay?

From Section:
Programs & Practicum
Oct. 15, 2007

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Volume 13, Issue 5 October 2007, pages 465 - 480

The research reported in this article investigates the changing demography of the teaching force at a time of increasing accountability. The study offers analysis of qualitative data to inform teacher retention strategies. It supplements existing knowledge about the career of teaching and challenges prevalent conceptions of linear career paths derived from the former industrial era. In many developed nations, the teaching profession is undergoing radical centralist reform aimed at school improvement, greater accountability and productivity, but retention of teachers is crucial to any planned improvements.

This empirical study investigates beginning secondary teachers' notions of career, from initial attraction to the profession to experienced and projected career trajectories in the second, third and fourth years of service. It focuses on 18 new teachers of modern languages in England. This research draws on the perspectives of three cohorts of six beginning teachers in consecutive years. An initial survey of participants in an induction support programme during their first year of teaching following qualification provided a representative sample. Data were gathered by means of semi-structured interviews and written journal reflections. The analysis of novice teachers' experiences, constructions of identity and perspectives on career trajectories suggests a typology of teachers: the 'career' teacher, the 'classroom' teacher and the 'portfolio' teacher, whose commitment to teaching may be temporary.

The results of this study reveal diversity of experience, motivation and career trajectories that raise key issues for retention. Results suggest that increasing marketisation of education and intensification of teachers' work challenge teachers' 'moral purpose' and professional identity and adversely affect not only their retention but also new teachers' intentions to remain in teaching. These findings suggest that if retention rates of the new generation of teachers are to be improved, policymakers need to recognise that supportive induction is essential, that professional satisfaction belongs to the 'moral purpose' of teaching, and that intensification of teachers' work may contribute to teacher shortages.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Attrition | Retention | Teacher education | Teacher recruitment