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Who wants to be a teacher? Findings from a survey of undergraduates in England

Gorard, Stephen and Ventista, Ourania Maria and Morris, Rebecca and See, Beng Huat (2021) 'Who wants to be a teacher? Findings from a survey of undergraduates in England.', Educational Studies .


Having enough (appropriate) teachers is a foundation for a good education system, yet teacher shortages in some areas and subjects are a widespread problem. This paper examines the views of 4,469 undergraduate students in 53 universities in England, with a few follow-up interviews, on what they are looking for in their envisaged future career. In this way, the analysis goes beyond the usual approach by including young people completely uninterested in teaching, those who considered teaching but rejected it, and those intending to be teachers. The study shows that prospective teachers tend to come from less prestigious occupational and educational backgrounds than their peers at university, have lower qualifications, and to study more generic subject areas with no clear occupational end point. They report an interest in sharing their knowledge and giving something back to society, more than pay and prospects, discipline, workload or similar issues. Financial incentives might appear to be important, but their role disappears when the outcomes are modelled using logistic regression, with predictors entered in biographical order. These, and other differences to the standard picture, are discussed in the concluding section that shows why this inclusive and biographical approach provides an important corrective on how to attract new teachers to the profession.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:07 April 2021
Date deposited:07 April 2021
Date of first online publication:15 April 2021
Date first made open access:29 April 2021

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