A framework for considering options within and outside of education

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The Association for Science Education (ASE) has launched Science Teacher SOS – a guide to support science teachers considering leaving teaching.

‘We’re losing science teachers very quickly. Teachers are hard to recruit, and once we’ve recruited them, we lose them,’ says Andy Chandler-Grevatt who authored the guide for the ASE’s 11–19 committee. ‘All of the committee members have seen teachers leaving the profession out of desperation, without considering other opportunities open to them within science education. We wanted to find a way of supporting teachers to make an informed decision about leaving teaching.’

The Science Teacher SOS guide is available for free from the ASE website.

The Science Teacher SOS guide is available for free from the ASE website: www.ase.org.uk/sos/

A recent report from the Wellcome Trust (pdf) highlights the acute problem of science teacher retention: science teachers are 26% more likely to leave their school than similar teachers in other subjects. 

The ASE also wants teachers to use the guide as a tool for educators to help colleagues they see struggling. ‘Science Teacher SOS is a talking document, a framework. It will help you talk through the situation with someone else if you see them in trouble or distress,’ says Helen Harden, chair of the 11-19 committee. ‘In particular, we know technicians can sometimes see teachers struggling.’ The ASE has produced postcards with opening questions that teachers, technicians or school leaders can use to initiate conversations.

What more can schools do to support teachers thinking of leaving the profession? Helen says, ‘Listen to your teachers. Science teachers not only need to handle classroom management issues, but also manage practical activities, and also often teach outside their specialism. This is what makes science different to other subjects and harder to teach.

‘There are many reasons why teachers leave the profession. They may make a snap decision and abandon their teaching career, when what they need is space and time to think. This framework will help people to pause and think things through.’