Recruiting and Retaining Teachers: Understanding Why Teachers Teach

By Anne D. Cockburn; Terry Haydn | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Recruiting and retaining good teachers: a non-trivial facet of education policy

A profound sentiment of the importance of his work must sustain and animate the teacher; the austere pleasure of having served mankind and contributed to the public weal must be worthy payment which his conscience alone gives him. It is his glory to use himself up in sacrifices and to expect his reward only from God.

(F. Guizot, 1833, explaining to French
teachers why their pay was so low) 1


'Teachers make a difference'

One of the few uncontested areas of education policy is the importance of attracting and retaining well motivated, able and intelligent graduates into teaching. The importance of teacher recruitment and retention is acknowledged in the statements and actions of politicians and policy makers in this area. In a speech to the Labour Party Conference, the then secretary of state for education, David Blunkett, described teachers as 'our most precious asset' (Guardian, 2 October 2000), and the prime minister, Tony Blair, pledged to make teaching 'the most prestigious profession in the country attracting the brightest and best trainees', stating that 'there is no more important job in the country today' (speech to London headteachers, 23 November 2000).

The Teacher Training Agency has expressed the hope that teaching will become one of the three most sought after professions, and that competition for places in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) will be sufficiently fierce that all successful applicants will have either first class or upper second class degrees. Concern over both the supply of teachers and the quality of those entering the profession was acknowledged in the government's Green Paper, Teachers: Meeting the Challenge of Change

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