Why Do Teachers Teach?

So why do people choose to become teachers?

To pay the mortgage silly.

No really.

To put food on the table.

No really.

To make a difference.

That’s normally the answer a teacher will give: “to make a difference”.

Some will say it is a calling and they “couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Others will say to inspire, be a role model, to be a change agent and to be a lifelong learner.


If you have been watching the BBC programme ‘School’ then you’d wonder why anyone wants to teach. It’s not the best advert for the profession and if anything it will put people right off.

There are many good reasons to teach. Teachers want to teach for all the right reasons and start out with good intentions but they are joining a fragile system.

New research tells us that most teachers do what they do because they want to help pupils achieve.

A YouGov poll asked almost 1000 teachers to cite the reasons why they worked in the profession and the responses are interesting.

  • 83% said seeing pupils develop and achieve
  • 55% said for the classroom teaching
  • 41% said for the holidays
  • 27% said opportunities to develop new approaches to teaching and learning
  • 23% said for the salary
  • 21% said for the support of colleagues
  • 19% said they enjoyed the professional autonomy

Only 12% mentioned work-life balance and just 7% highlighted working conditions as one of their reasons to teach.

The vast majority of teachers feel unloved and overworked with 84% thinking teaching is not valued by society yet an Ipsos MORI poll showed this to be quite the opposite – teachers are the third most trusted profession in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, nearly 50% of teachers say their morale has declined in the past year with more than a third (38 per cent) saying they have “low morale”.


See The Teacher Wellbeing Index 2018

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