A recent report by the House of Commons Education Committee has found that recruitment and retention of teachers is a growing issue in England. The government is aware of the challenges but has consistently failed to meet recruitment targets through the teacher supply model.
The primary tactic to meet the levels required for schools has been to recruit new teachers. While this goes some way, the report suggests that greater emphasis should be placed on teacher retention. This is a much more cost-effective solution but also strengthens the pool of potential leadership candidates.
In another report commissioned by the Department of Education, 93% of teachers reports that workload in their schools was at least a “fairly serious problem.” Over three-quarters of staff were dissatisfied by the number of hours they usually worked and could not complete their workload during their contracted hours.
The average hours worked by teachers at all levels was recorded as 54.4 hours per week. Almost a third of part-time teachers reported that 40% of their total hours were worked outside of school hours, such as evenings, weekends and mornings. Senior leaders reported longer working hours, referencing 60 hours per week.
This illustrates the increasing pressure on teachers in England and is reflected in the retention figures. 87% of teachers remain in the profession one year after qualifying and 30% of teachers leave within five years. The National Audit Office found that between 2011 and 2014 the number of teachers leaving rose by 11%.
The workload was cited as the most important reason as to why school leaders thought teachers left their school. Although the report suggests that teachers who feel supported are less likely to think their workload is unmanageable.
How to improve teacher retention
Retention, therefore, is a major issue within the teaching profession. At The Classroom Partnership, we have experienced first-hand the number of experienced and quality teachers leaving full time, permanent posts to take up supply. It has allowed them to find a work-life balance that is difficult to obtain as a full-time teacher.
In order to improve the levels of retention, the report suggests that teachers should receive more professional development, allowing them to feel more prepared. It implies that this will reduce the struggle with their working hours. Additionally, school leaders should promote a culture of wellbeing in their schools, which could include capping the number of hours teacher work outside of teaching time.
Yet the problem runs deeper than that. Rising pupil numbers, teacher accountability, government policy changes and attraction from other career paths highlight the factors the sector has to deal with. If there is enough support and understanding of the pressures placed on teachers, a strategy for retention would be just as important as it is for new teacher recruitment.
Celebrating great teachers
The Classroom Partnership understands the level of dedication required to be a teacher. After all, we’re an agency that is in part, run by teachers. We’ve recently launched our campaign, ‘make an impression that lasts a lifetime’. It celebrates the great teachers and education professionals that leave a long-lasting, positive impression on our young students.
To read some of our stories as to why our teachers got into the profession in the first place, and to search our latest jobs, click here.