It’s now widely acknowledged that schools are facing the greatest staffing shortage in history. Alongside recruitment, it is teacher retention which is proving problematic. Teachers are leaving the profession in unheard numbers. Since 2011, year-on-year retention rates have declined sharply. A recent survey by the National Education Union found that 81% of teachers were considering the profession. In London, where problems are most acute, a quarter of all NQTs who joined the profession in 2015 had left the job by 2017.
Teachers will often blame schools for leaving the profession. Whether or not this is justified, it’s the case that there are small things that schools can do to help retain teachers.
The top reason for teachers leaving is workload. There is no single strategy to reduce workload. With the ever-increasing list of teacher tasks and diminishing funding, it’s not likely that a solution will be straightforward. With this in mind, school leaders could think about what tasks teachers find most tiring. These range from little things, like photocopier access and class circulation policy, to more drastic energy savers. Overhauling marking policies with the introduction of live marking, structured co-planning and looking at the data burden which teachers face are all important.
Much like reducing workload, there is no magic wand for improving staff satisfaction. However, there are strategies that research shows makes staff happier. Staff satisfaction polls across sectors show that feeling valued is incredibly important, something no different with teachers. A weekly reward system for staff, for example, is an effective way for staff to feel appreciated. Alongside a sense of appreciation, all staff want to feel they have a voice and are free to express any concerns. Have an anonymous feedback box and regular teacher surveys to get a sense of how staff feel.
Quality CPD is a big factor for teachers both leaving and staying in a school. The key is flexibility. Teachers need to feel that they can be developed if they want. If it starts to be viewed as a chore, like as a weekly “tickbox”, there could be pushback. On top of this the CPD needs to feel relevant and if possible, also bespoke. Allowing teachers to do and run their own CPD on a departmental level can also be effective. Masses of information is available with https://tdtrust.org/ and through https://www.tes.com/institute/courses/improve-your-skills.
Airsupply realises that retaining teachers is a difficult and complicated process, which is often outside of the school’s remit. We’re interested to hear if you’ve any strategies which we could share that, like ours, can be easy to implement. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Airsupply teachers typically earn £30 per day more, doing work they choose.