A teacher has quit the profession in tears after just one term, blaming unrealistic targets and impossible hours that meant finishing work at 6.30pm each night.

Eddie Ledsham, from Wallasey, Merseyside, said crushing workloads led the primary teacher to leave the class of eight-year-olds he started teaching in nearby Wirral a year ago.

The 22-year-old said his university degree gave him no idea how all-consuming the job would be.

He said: "I felt that what was expected of us was astronomical. I love working with children but the problem with the teaching is that there are so many expectations.

"I think we should have been given more on-the-job experience during the course of the degree, as it didn't at all prepare me for it."

The teacher added the job quickly began to dominate all aspects of his life, even though he was told by his school to strike a work-life balance.

He said: "We were encouraged to have a work-play balance but, whenever I wasn't doing school work, I would feel guilty. Even on the train to and from work, I would feel guilty that I wasn't doing anything work-related."

"If I went to watch the football with friends, I'd have to shoot off as soon as it finished because I'd have work to do. The times I'd go and see my then girlfriend, I'd have to sit and do marking while she cooked or something."

Lesson plans

Ledsham added the way he had been taught to draw up lesson plans at university proved impractical in the classroom.

He said: "At uni, we were told that each lesson would require a three A4 page plan. But, when you consider the fact that I was planning seven lessons a day, five days a week, that is an awful lot of planning to do."

At the time, Ledsham was living with his father and getting home at about 6.30pm, usually after being the last person to leave the school. He would get up at 5.30am to mark work from the kids or begin more lesson planning, before going into school.

He said is workload was compounded because there was only one class in the year, which meant Ledsham had to plan every lesson himself, rather than splitting it between other teachers in the year as in other schools.

"Looking back, I probably rushed into it but I was worried the start of the school year would come around and I'd be left without a job," said Ledsham.

Teacher shortages

Earlier this year MPs Education Select Committee accused the government of failing to take adequate measures to tackle "significant teacher shortages". It called for a long-term plan to cut the numbers quitting teaching.

Last month, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "The rates of wastage have increased among younger teachers and older teachers alike in the last five years. We fully support action to address these problems but we already know that workload is the biggest single factor in teachers leaving the profession."

But the Department for Education said despite the "challenges facing schools" the number of teachers in schools has hit record levels.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and overall the number of new teachers entering our classrooms outnumbers those who retire or leave. Last year more than 14,000 former teachers returned to the classroom, an increase of 8% since 2011.

"We continue to invest significant sums in teacher recruitment, with £1.3bn up to 2020 being invested in teacher bursaries to attract the best and brightest into the profession."