Recruiting and retaining staff - best practice

24 January 2018 by AMiE
Statistician Jude Hillary, who is based at the National Foundation for Educational Research, presented findings from a study into recruitment and retention of teachers.

“Contrary to popular belief, the majority of teachers are not considering leaving the profession,” he said, adding, however, that the number of teachers leaving for reasons other than retirement has increased by about two per cent.

“Many policies focus on recruitment, but at a time when training targets are being missed retaining teachers becomes all the more important, he said.

The NFER’s analysis shows secondary school teachers are significantly more likely to consider leaving, while senior leaders and maths teachers are less likely to leave.

Workload is at the centre of why teachers are considering leaving, while policy changes and inspection targets, which impact on mental health, are also among the reasons cited. 

"Being valued and trusted by school management, having adequate resources and having job satisfaction, and an effective governing board all affect a teacher’s willingness to stay in teaching", said Jude.

Addressing the causes of low engagement among classroom teachers is critical to tackling retention.


Headteachers and senior leaders should monitor intentions and engagement among their staff.

“With workload, there has been a lot of mythbusting of what is and isn’t required from the centre but that hasn’t got through to classroom teachers and that is causing dissatisfaction,” he said. “There’s a real role for senior leaders to take the information coming out from the centre and disseminate it to their staff.”

Among the findings presented by Jude were that part-time secondary teachers have a higher leaving rate than part-time primary teachers and full-time teachers.  He said this suggested primary schools are better able to accommodate part-time teachers than in secondaries.

“To address the issue of retention, more needs to be done to cope with flexible working in secondary schools,” he said. 

Reporting by Nick Bannister, education communications consultant.

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