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RETENTION of teachers is now the biggest crisis schools across the country now faces, according to new research. Education Reporter NIGEL HART examines some of the issues faced by those in the profession.

BEING a teacher today is about far more than a desire to make a difference and help children to learn.

True, they are the fundamental reasons but, like it or not, there is more to it as Andrea Mbarushimana found out.

For two years the 26-year-old had been teaching English in Rwanda, Africa, before returning earlier this year.

After enjoying the experience, she decided to pursue a teaching career when she returned to England.

Andrea took advantage of her English degree and started a graduate teacher training course, a fast-track, employment-based route into the profession.

She was placed at Ernesford Grange comprehensive in Coventry last month, but only lasted one week as she realised she had made a mistake.

"It is nothing against the school but it was a disaster," Andrea, who now works with young people in Cambridge, said.

"They were great kids but I couldn't control them and 90 per cent of them seemed to think that my lessons weren't relevant to them at all.

"I had applied for other jobs and when I was offered another interview, I had to take it - I couldn't risk being this miserable for the rest of my career.

"I got the job and left teaching. In all I lasted a week at Ernesford. I was fine in Rwanda, on my own, teaching in a small mountain village where only two people spoke any English, so I don't consider myself a quitter.

"But I know good teaching when I see it: those kids deserved the best and, for whatever reason, I wasn't up to giving it."

Although Andrea's experience is not necessarily a common one, she is not the first to realise that a career in teaching in this country is not what they thought it would be.

Many experienced and successful teachers are finding an ever increasing workload difficult to cope with.

Earlier this month research by the National Union of Teachers found that 58 per cent of trainees either do not work in the profession or quit within the first three years, with workload given as one of the main reasons.

Since 1988 when the first National Curriculum was introduced, there have been constant initiatives and schemes in education by successive governments.

No teacher will try and tell you that the profession or methods of teaching should stand still. It needs to develop and adapt as times change but they do feel there should be some time for consolidation and not constant change.

Many believe that more and more has been added to the job over the last 13 years, yet nothing has been taken away.

Alan Vickers has been a teacher for 26 years, the last 17 at Wolvey CofE Primary, in north Warwickshire.

He has wanted to be a teacher since he was eight but 12 months ago, seriously considered leaving the job.

Over the last two years the 47-year-old has seen his health affected by a stress-related illness, which has forced him into time off of work.

Alan, known to many through the north of the county as the only person to represent both Bedworth football and rugby clubs in the same season, is used to pressure.

"But this job is a different sort of pressure," he said.

"It is not the pressure of teaching, as I love the children, parents and staff at the school and the leadership at Wolvey is excellent.

"But it is external pressures, the burden of bureaucracy has grown tremendously for everyone connected in education.

"The amount of paper work you have to produce now to justify every single thing you do every minute of the day is unbelievable. …