Teacher retention efforts ‘not working’

The BBC reports that Government efforts to help schools keep hold of teachers and develop their skills do not appear to be working, the government spending watchdog suggests.

A National Audit Office report shows more teachers leave before retirement than five years ago, and schools are finding it tougher to fill posts. In 2016, nearly 35,000 teachers – 8% of the workforce – left their jobs for reasons other than retirement, it said. 

The NAO said that between 2010 and 2016 the number of teachers in England’s state schools increased by 15,500. But over the same period, the number of secondary school teachers fell by 10,800.

A Department for Education survey quoted in the report found teachers and middle-leaders were working a 54-hour week.

Schools are only filling half of vacancies with teachers having the required experience and expertise, it said. It also found local variations in the proportion of schools reporting vacancies. The North East had the lowest percentage of schools (16.4%) reporting at least one vacancy, while the South East had the highest at 26.45%.

The report also found the DfE had not set out in a coherent way, or shared with schools and teachers, how they can work together to improve things for the workforce. The NAO said it previously reported the DfE spent £555m on training and supporting new teachers in 2013-14. In contrast, £35.7m was spent in 2016-17 on programmes for teacher development and retention, with £91,000 of this aimed at improving teacher retention.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “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.

“In addition, we are working with Ofsted to tackle workload and will continue to engage with the profession to better understand the specific challenges and how we can address them.”

Read more Teacher retention efforts ‘not working’

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  1. Zoe

    After 14 years of full time teaching I left my job in July in search of part time and a better work life balance. So far I haven’t been able to secure anything because as an experienced teacher I am too expensive for the majority of schools. As schools have tight budgets they are increasingly recruiting newly qualified or fairly new to replace experienced teachers and cover for PPA is being done by HLTA or TAs. So I find myself in the strange position that I am an ‘outstanding’ teacher looking for work but not much wanted because I’m on the upper pay scale.

  2. Donna

    The workload and emotional pressures on teachers is increased by the lack of funding in schools and for other sectors – teachers ever increasingly find themselves being social worker; counsellor; mental health worker. The lack of support outside of schools means that teachers bear the brunt of children’s anger and frustration, and lack of ability to cope with what life is throwing at them resulting in more challenging behaviours or mental health traumas. The crisis is much wider than teacher pay. The government talk about reducing teachers’ workload yet continue to make huge changes in curriculum and assessment whilst the accountability stakes are crucifiying especially as they are predicated on an exam system that is frankly a lottery and is at the point of collapse. Our damaged children have to ‘perform’ well in these exams or it is the schools’ fault. Teachers are getting worn down and many of the best are needing to get out.

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