Three Methods for Improving Teacher Retention

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Studies have shown that there is a serious problem with the retention of teachers and it is clear that this issue needs to be addressed. Such a high turnover of teachers is causing a huge burden on finances as schools are spending extra time recruiting new staff and using extra resources to do it.

Government figures have revealed that 30% of the total teachers in English state schools starting their career in 2010, had left by 2015.

According to data from the National Audit Office, it has been four years since targets were achieved by the Department of Education for the recruitment of trainee teachers. Alarmingly, one in 10 newly qualified teachers left after just a year in their post

The statistics show that there needs to be steps taken now to increase retention, but how exactly do you achieve this?

Improve Conditions

It is no secret that conditions for teachers are often less than encouraging. As a study by the Guardian Teacher Network and Guardian Jobs revealed, many teachers are less than happy with their working conditions, with many feeling overworked and stressed. A staggering 98% of the 4,450 respondents to the study stated that they feel under increasing pressure and 82% felt that they were faced with a workload they quite simply can’t cope with.  Working hours were also an issue, with over three quarters working between 49 and 65 hours per week.

These working conditions are obviously unsustainable and looking at the data, it seems unsurprising that retention is an issue. It is time to look at the working conditions and find a way to ensure teachers are achieving the right balance between personal life and working life. It may be the case that extra resources are required, but this is likely to be less costly in the long run than losing staff and spending time and resources on recruitment and training.

Training and Development

If you want to keep your teachers, it is important to give them the time to imbed themselves into the role. Although recruitment challenges may make it seem tempting to pile work onto new teachers as soon as they commence their role, it really is counter-productive. Instead, it is important to give them adequate mentoring, networking opportunities with other teachers and overall collaboration. The whole experience should be more positive for new teachers and training should be adapted to suit. As Professor Becky Francis, director of the UCL Institute of Education stated, teacher training could consist of a QTS at the end and throughout their development. More defined training is likely to improve the experience for teachers, would could ultimately increase retention levels.

Better Pay

Another issue which needs to be addressed is the salary offered to new teachers. As the number of supply teachers, supplied through agencies, increases, salaries are lower with agency fees reducing take-home pay. This is causing many teachers to consider quitting, as they simply can’t survive on the pay currently being offered. A recent survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that teacher salaries in England have declined by 12% since 2005. It is clear that there is an issue with pay and this needs to be addressed to improve retention levels.

Although increasing retention levels for teachers may be challenging, it is definitely not an impossible tasks, as long as these issues are addressed – and the sooner, the better.


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1 Comment

  1. Richard LewisNovember 4, 2017

    You’re missing the most important reason why teachers seek to move on (other than for progression): the attitude of senior management to staff. Very few SLT members in the schools where I have taught have any idea what leadership actually means. Many think it’s about telling staff what to do (or ordering them about). They think they have to come up with all the good ideas (which are generally bad) and are impervious to suggestions from staff.

    The best schools have SLT that listen to their staff and support them. They recognise that keeping good staff is about creating a good working environment, including clear rules for all students which are solidly supported and reinforced by SLT members.

    Many schools have an easy-come easy-go attitude to staff resignations. They still live in a past where teachers are easy to recruit. They don’t plan ahead or respond to teachers who approach them when they’re not recruiting. Basically they lack all the skills that a normal successful business would have.


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