Let’s learn from the nurses
Written by Alan   

23 November 2020

Almost one in six teachers (15.3%) who qualified in 2017 left the state school sector in England within a year, according to data published by the Department for Education.

Several countries have reported that approximately half of the teachers leave the profession within 5-10 years.

Presumably most new teachers were excited the day they graduated and highly motivated on the day they arrived at school for their first day of teaching. Something is going wrong. Horribly wrong!!

Maybe the realities of full-time teaching with all its student, parent, management and administrative stresses, is just too much for many new teachers. Maybe all they wanted to do was teach.

Perhaps we can learn something from the NHS in the UK which has implemented a form of mentoring for graduate nurses during the first few months of employment.

This programme (known in the nursing profession as Preceptorship) offers newly qualified nurses about 6 months structured support provided by an experienced colleague or superior who helps them to get to grips with the routine and admin. They report that it and has given them confidence, a sense of belonging and a feeling of being valued by their superiors.

Perhaps ensuring that every newly employed teacher has a preceptor who follows a 6 month programme to empower them to successfully implement good classroom practice, effectively prepare and deliver lessons, manage discipline in the classroom, deal with parents, and most importantly to receive constructive feedback and praise as they improve, might make the difference?

One of my reasons for offering this suggestion is that so many heads of academic departments see their role as ‘supervisory’, or to gain compliance to good classroom practice. This is a box ticking exercise. As a consequence the soul of the new teacher is not nourished by a caring mentor who enthusiastically seeks to help the new teacher find their feet and become a confident, appreciated and celebrated member of the teaching community at their school.

Research from the nursing profession seems to indicate that an induction programme is not sufficient. A structured preceptorship programme for the first 6 months would provide a foundation to give newly qualified teachers the confidence to enjoy teaching hopefully reducing the dropout rate.