On Tuesday, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) published a report on the teaching workforce in England. The research particularly focused on teacher retention, identifying key factors causing teachers to leave the profession and making recommendations for policy makers and school leaders.
The report showed that since 2010, the rate of teachers both leaving the profession and moving jobs has increased. These factors combine to mean schools have to fill more vacancies every year, increasing uncertainty and recruitment costs.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that pupil numbers are forecast to rise by 19% over the next decade, meaning that additional teachers will need to be recruited to meet the new demand.
The report identified low job satisfaction as a key reason why teachers were leaving the profession. This appeared to stem from the profession’s long hours, with teachers working over 50 hours per week on average during term-time, far higher than nurses and police officers in a normal working week.
Teachers blamed high workload for these long hours. Interestingly, the report claimed that satisfaction was far more important than pay in persuading teachers to leave the profession, as those taking a new job took a ten per cent pay cut on average.
The report therefore argued that measures to improve satisfaction may be more effective than pay increases in increasing retention. Those governing will be particularly interested in the report’s recommendations for school leaders. The report advocated regular monitoring of job satisfaction (e.g. staff surveys), and intervention to increase support and reduce pressures where workload issues were identified.
Governing boards should be asking for information on workload and staff retention in their schools, and the steps which senior leaders are taking to resolve any problems. Recommendations, such as those contained in the report, can act as a valuable basis for challenge during these discussions.