TEACHERS in East Lancashire are leaving the profession to become bus drivers, cleaners and builders.

Union leaders said many teachers were finding other types of work or leaving with no job to go to at all.

Lancashire’s and Blackburn with Darwen’s representatives Simon Jones, from the NUT, and Claire Ward, from NASUWT, said the phenomenon had become common.

The news comes as schools are set to be hit by a teachers' strike on Wednesday March 26 in a dispute over pay, pensions and conditions.

NUT leader Simon Jones said: “I must speak to three or four people a week who have decided to quit. One of the most common things now searched for on our website is how to leave the profession.

“I have represented people who were leaving to become cleaners. I know former members are working as builders and at least one is working as a bus driver.

“There is nothing wrong with these jobs but it isn’t what they studied long and hard to do for a living. These people were very dedicated to the profession but the pressure came to be too much.

“The most common thing being said in staff rooms at the moment is ‘I would rather stack shelves’.”

NASUWT’s Claire Ward said: “I have spoken to many people who have just had to leave and have taken any job they can.

“They will take very basic office jobs or leave with no job at all. I know some of my members who have gone on to work in supermarkets.

“A lot of teachers continue to do private tuition in the evenings, but for a day job they will do anything else.

“One new teacher, who had been judged as Outstanding in her lessons, left in her second year because she was going in seven days a week. She was going into school on a Sunday just to keep up with the demand. The pressure is ridiculous.”

National figures show two-fifths of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years, described as a ‘national scandal’ by Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw.

A teachers survey by NASUWT last year found that teachers' top four concerns about their jobs were workload, government changes to pensions, pay and school inspections. It found over half of teachers were considering leaving teaching altogether.

However the Department for Education says more top graduates and professionals than ever before are coming into teaching.