Retention: Keeping your teachers

Retaining talented teachers is a major concern for schools. Liam Donnison finds out about one school’s approach – the creation of an ‘academy improvement group’ in SecEd.

It is clear that our schools are crammed full of talented and ambitious teachers. What is also very apparent is that unfortunately as a system we still have much to learn when it comes to nurturing and retaining that talent, with plenty of evidence that too many teachers are leaving the profession early.

Sirius Academy West is an outstanding 1,650-pupil, 11 to 19 academy serving a deprived catchment area in Hull. The school leads a cross-phase multi-academy trust (MAT) and the Blueprint Teaching School Alliance. The academy has developed an impressive approach to the issue of developing and retaining talent, centred around its academy improvement group (AIG). This autonomous body has become a motor for promotion and improvements in teaching and learning by providing talented staff opportunities for training and development and to trial new ideas.

Chris Fletcher, head of teaching school, outlined the principles behind the Sirius approach to talent identification and retention.

Identify talent from the off

“As a relatively young academy, talented and committed staff could be rewarded with internal promotion but eventually a point is reached where this can no longer be accommodated. An increase in salaries is not sustainable and leads to a wage bill increase across all staff for parity.

“The solution in this case was to identify staff with leadership potential and give them the opportunity to be involved in whole-school developments, and then have their abilities externally verified. This approach produces a pool from which we can promote when the need arises as well as giving our staff opportunities to develop and challenge themselves.”

A focus on development and retention

“Our AIG was established to identify and trial improvement strategies that could be used across the academy. The group was led by a member of the senior leadership team and participants – staff who showed potential for future promotion or leadership roles, or those who had actively sought progression – were either invited or encouraged to apply. 

“The group’s remit was wide ranging and allowed individual interests to emerge, such as teaching and learning, assessment and data analysis. It provided us with a retention and recruitment structure that gave its members tailored professional development and provided the academy, and later the MAT, a pool from which to draw future leaders.” 

Read more about their approach Retention: Keeping your teachers

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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