University of Sussex Media Release.
. Work Stress Stops Teachers Going For Promotion

November 1st 2000
For immediate release

A new study of the career progress of primary school teachers shows that job stress is preventing them aiming for headships.

The research, by two University of Sussex education specialists, reveals that relatively few recently qualified teachers actually want to leave the profession, but many are reluctant to move from the classroom into management.

"Given the extra pressures on teachers these days, we thought they would want to leave in droves," says Vivienne Griffiths, Institute of Education English tutor who, along with MA programme co-ordinator Angela Franklin, carried out the survey. "The results surprised us. People want to stay in the profession, but they don't have ambitions to be anything higher than a subject co-ordinator. They don't want the added responsibility. This could have drastic implications when there is already a shortage of head teachers."

The study was carried out on teachers who trained on the University of Sussex Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) primary course between1990 and 1999. Questionnaires were sent to more than 400 former students. Of the 40 per cent that responded, nearly 80 per cent were still in teaching. Those who had left the profession gave various reasons, including increasing levels of stress in the job.

The researchers were also surprised to find that those who had finished their training a decade ago were more ambitious in climbing the career ladder than recent graduates. "Some of them had already reached senior levels and perhaps felt they had already got over the hurdle, " says Griffiths. "But they entered the profession when there were far fewer restrictions on what they could and couldn't do and were more inclined to aim for senior positions. New graduates are more realistic about the pressures. What we may find is that they reach burn-out much sooner."

Griffiths and Jacklin, who have now received a 35,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to continue research into recent graduates, are presenting their findings in a seminar, entitled Career Histories of Primary Teachers, on November 7 at the University of Sussex library meeting room. The seminar, which is open to everyone, starts at 12.30pm and ends at 2pm.

Notes for editors

For further information, please contact Vivienne Griffiths on 01273 606755 ext 7044, email, or Jacqui Bealing or Alison Field, Press Office, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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