Teacher retention for schools

25 Feb 2019 02:41 PM

The government took an important step this month in publishing its Teacher Recruitment Strategy. This articulates their ambition in meeting the ‘increasingly difficult challenge to recruit and retain staff of the calibre required’.

This is a tough nut to crack, as currently the profession has severe shortages in areas such as maths and the sciences.

This policy has received widespread support by many stakeholders from across teaching unions & representative organisations.

The strategy sets out 4 key barriers to achieving recruitment ambitions, & outlining the steps to overcome them, which I’m sure we can all identify with;

  1. The wider context in which head teachers operate can create pressure that leads to excessive workload that distracts teachers from teaching.
  2. Not enough early career teachers receive the high quality support they need to build the foundation for a successful career.
  3. A career in teaching does not always adapt to the expertise and lives of teachers
  4. The process to become a teacher is too complicated and burdensome

To meet these challenges, the DfE set out that they will radically simplify the school accountability system, as well as setting out a new Ofsted framework focusing on the need to tackle teacher workload – this is currently being consulted upon, and we’d encourage you to respond if you can.

Just as welcome is the decision that the DfE will maintain a ‘period stability in curriculum, qualifications and assessment’- I think we can all agree we’ve had more than our fair share of reform over the past few years. This means there will be no additional statutory tests or assessment for primary schools and no further changes to the national curriculum or GCSEs or A-levels.

There is extra money promised too, with an additional £130 million every year to support Early Careers Framework (ECF) delivery in full. This also includes rolling out bursaries across other subject areas - based on the current maths teaching bursary and following its phased, retention payment approach.

DfE is also looking to create specialist National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) to support subject or specialist roles, – assessment, behaviour management, subject and curriculum expertise, and pedagogy as part of a wider structured package to support teachers throughout their careers.

These NPQs flow directly from and extend expertise in the core areas in which teachers will receive training at the start of their career.

The DfE has also set out its ambition to make applying to be a teacher more straightforward and less burdensome. This includes a new application service for ITT, which will be easier to use and designed to better meet the needs of potential trainees; and reviewing the ITT market so that it can work more effectively.

From this strategy, it’s clear that the DfE has listened to the concerns of teaching staff and school leaders, and is keen to tackle this issue head on. We hope that this will help ease the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis, and support and inspire our young people in the longer term.