Recruiting and Retaining Teachers: Understanding Why Teachers Teach

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

Chapter 2

What do job seekers want?

In Chapter 1 we explored the context of recent concerns about the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers. Once in the profession, people can discover for themselves the pros and cons of teaching as a career. But how do sixth formers and university leavers view the profession in the first place? Do their perceptions in any way match the realities of the job or is there such disparity that they are doomed to disappointment should they embark on a career in teaching? More broadly, what do young people consider when making career choices and what, if any, implications might this have for the teaching profession?

This chapter is based on a large-scale survey of 1,675 school leavers spread across ten local education authorities and 346 final year undergraduates from nine universities in England. We conducted it in conjunction with our colleague, Ann Oliver, and we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Council for British Teachers (Cockburn et al. 2000). The work originated from our earlier work on teacher stress (Cockburn 1996) and teacher retention (Cockburn et al. 2000), together with a wide array of work on careers in general (Argyle 1987; Csikszentmihalyi 1992; Arnold et al. 1998) and teaching in particular (Nias 1981, 1989; Avi-Itzhak 1988; Rodgers-Jenkinson and Chapman 1990; Borg et al. 1991; Evans 1992, 1998; Kloep and Tarifa 1994; Chaplain 1995; McManus 1996). Without going into a long diversion into the merits and shortcomings of questionnaires, we fully recognise that they are considerably less detailed and personal than interviews. Moreover, as you will see in Appendix 1, most of the questions were closed, thus limiting the choice of possible responses. These points notwithstanding, it is important to recognise that the questions were designed on the basis of earlier research, that they were fully piloted and that the use of a survey enabled us to uncover some of the thoughts of far more people than an interview study. Towards the end of this chapter, however, we will discuss

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