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Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

The National Foundation for Educational Research and the Nuffield Foundation have published a wide ranging review as “issues of teacher recruitment and retention have recently moved up the education policy agenda as a result of rising pupil numbers, shortfalls in the number of new trainee teachers and increases in the proportion of teachers leaving (or considering leaving) the profession.”

The report titled Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England: Nurturing, Valuing and Supporting Teachers comes immediately after a partially funded and partially implemented pay settlement and a woefully inadequate budget statement by the Chancellor.

Problems identified in the report included the increased number of teachers leaving the profession and moving schools, disproportionately affecting some schools and greatest in Maths, Science and Modern Foreign Languages.  Also, older teachers (50+) are leaving the profession at a greater rate and proportionately more teachers are leaving schools graded Inadequate by Ofsted; they’re also more likely to leave the profession.

We know teacher recruitment targets have been consistently missed for many years and that there is a substantial increase in pupil numbers moving through from primary to secondary schools.  Workload, with substantial stresses during term time, leading to a lack of leisure time and decreasing job satisfaction are key issues as well as a lack of flexible working particularly at a secondary level.  The latter is often due to the greater rigidity of secondary timetables compared to primary schools.

The reports fourteen main recommendations are:

Recommendation 1: The Government should give greater attention to the impact of teachers moving around the profession and develop policies to support schools which are disproportionately affected.

Recommendation 2: The Government should investigate why the rate of leaving among older teachers has been increasing and explore whether they could be incentivised to stay in the profession longer, particularly in subjects with specialist teacher shortages.

Recommendation 3: The Government should structure bursary payments or other financial incentives such as student loan repayments to explicitly incentivise retention in the teaching profession during the first few years after training.

Recommendation 4: School leaders, Government and Ofsted need to continue working together to review the impact their actions are having on the workload of all teachers, to identify practical actions that can be taken to reduce it.

Recommendation 5: Schools should consider having a governor or trustee responsible for staff welfare, or a member of the management team with specific time and responsibilities in this area.

Recommendation 6: School leaders should regularly monitor the job satisfaction and engagement of their staff directly, use line management effectively to identify workload issues, and intervene to increase support and reduce workload pressures where issues are identified.

Recommendation 7: Policy responses that aim to increase teacher retention must consider pay alongside other factors affecting the trade-offs that teachers make, such as their workload, working hours and job satisfaction.

Recommendation 8: The Government should target teacher pay increases at groups that are likely to be most responsive to pay changes, such as early-career teachers and/or maths and science teachers, as this is likely to be the most cost effective way of improving retention.

Recommendation 9: The Government and stakeholders in the secondary sector need to look urgently at identifying ways to accommodate more and better part-time working in secondary schools.

Recommendation 10: Further research with secondary schools which successfully offer greater flexibility in working patterns should be undertaken and best practice shared.

Recommendation 11: To help improve retention, leaders of MATs should do more to promote the benefits of working in their organisation to their teachers; for example, by raising the profile of the MAT as the structure that teachers belong to, and through promoting career paths for teachers to develop and progress within the MAT.

Recommendation 12: School and system leaders need to review what more they can do to identify and support good teachers who are working hard to turn Inadequate schools around, so that they do not drift away from the profession

Recommendation 13: Policy makers should look at how policy interventions, such as housing subsidies, could help to recruit and retain teachers in high-cost areas.

Recommendation 14: Further research exploring the geographical flows of trainees into the teacher workforce and during their careers would help to gain an understanding of the detailed dynamic picture within and across different areas and aid the development of policy solutions in areas where teacher supply issues are most acute.

I’d be interested in your thoughts; not radical enough would be mine.



One thought on “Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

  1. Recommendation 11……interesting! Ensuring good teachers feel valued during organisational changes and that the commitment and hard work they consistently demonstrated earned them, at least, some respect? Disgruntled….
    maybe…..let to rest, I don’t think so…ever.

    Posted by elcholmondeley | November 8, 2018, 11:46 pm

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