‘We must find a way to stop teachers leaving

It should be relatively straightforward to identify periods when a larger number of secondary teachers are going to be needed to teach growing numbers of secondary pupils. After all, we can see the increase in primary pupil numbers several years in advance – eventually, they move into secondary schools. Yet, amidst all of the reforms to education over this decade, it is only relatively recently that this fundamental issue has started to receive the attention it deserves. Tes reports.

The growing demand for teachers – created by rising pupil numbers as well as policies that have increased the demand for certain subject specialists – comes at a time when teachers’ working hours appear to have been increasing and their real-terms pay has been falling. This isn’t a great advert for attracting new recruits into the profession, in spite of how important and rewarding teaching can be. The government has struggled to hit its recruitment targets for secondary teachers for the past five years.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been exploring these issues for several years, arguing that greater attention needs to be given to teacher retention, not just recruitment. The proportion of working-age teachers leaving the profession has been increasing, and every teacher lost to the profession means one more needs to be recruited and trained.

This morning, we published a major new research report, Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England, undertaken with grant funding from the Nuffield Foundation. It provides a detailed analysis of the factors associated with teacher retention and turnover, what happens when people leave the profession, whether they return, and how teaching compares to nursing and policing. The report makes a series of recommendations – for school leaders as well as the government – about how to improve retention.

There are many potential solutions and some are already being explored. Reducing workload, creating opportunities for more flexible working, targeting financial incentives on those most likely to leave, providing more support for inexperienced teachers and monitoring (and addressing) staff satisfaction and wellbeing are all likely to make a difference. There is a role for both senior leaders as well as the government in tackling these challenges.

Read the full article and download The Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England research report   ‘We must find a way to stop teachers leaving

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

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