get a grip on retention

Slap on the wrist for DfE: ‘get a grip on retention’

Slap on the wrist for the DfE as the ‘Fail to get a grip on teacher retention’

Committee of Public Accounts: more teachers are leaving the job before retirement than five years ago – what are you going to do about it?

A new report by the Public Accounts Committee has challenged the DfE to write to them by April 2018 on what they are going to do to maintain sustainable teaching workforce numbers.

The report found that more teachers than ever are leaving before retirement, with 35,000 teachers leaving the sector in 2016 alone. Their research supports eTeach’s 2017 research that workload is the biggest driver of teacher resignations.

South East missing the most teachers – time to make it a cost-of-living wage?

The report, ‘Retaining and Developing the Teaching Workforce’ shows that 26.4% of schools in the south East have vacancies in comparison to 16.4% of North-East. This raises the question again of whether a national pay scale is really appropriate for teaching when the cost of living is so variable by region.  Whilst a teaching salary may offer a good quality of life in some UK regions, it fails to compare with what other industries can offer graduates – particularly the science and maths ones that we so desperately lack. The research identified cost of living as the 2nd most significant barrier to teacher retention.

Retention is still the elephant in the room

Unfortunately, the DfE continue to trot out the standard comment that the number of school teacher is at a record high, with 15,500 more than in 2010, and go so far as to say that “retention rates have been broadly stable”, which overlooks the glaring issue that stable retention is of no use when secondary school student headcounts are rocketing by another 20% by 2025.

In 2016 the ratio of pupils to each one teacher in secondary schools rose from 14.9 to 15.6, despite falling student headcount that year.

Money mis-spent?

The DfE spent £555 million on training and support for new teachers in 2013-14 but only £35.7 million on development and retention programmes, of which only £91,000 – that’s ninety-one thousand, was on the improvement of teaching retention.

“By its own admission, the Department has given insufficient priority to teacher retention and development. It has got the balance wrong between training new teachers and supporting the existing workforce, with spending on the former 15 times greater than on the latter”

Recommendations to tackle retention

In this report, the Committee sets out several hard-hitting recommendations for the DfE, and make some fair swipes at their previous ideas, including the ill-thought-out 10,000 relocation bursary that had little take up. They are (abridged):

1. by April 2018, set out and communicate a coherent plan for how it will support schools to retain and develop the teaching workforce. Including timescales, details of the interventions and how success will be measured (i.e. declining teacher attrition rates)
2. The Department should set out what is an acceptable level of teacher workload, monitor through its periodic surveys of teachers the impact of its actions to reduce unnecessary workload, and identify possible further interventions
3. The Department should help schools more to recruit teachers of the right quality.
4. The Department should set out how it will take account of the housing requirements for teachers, particularly in high-cost areas, in order to support recruitment and retention.
5. The Department should conduct more work to understand why there are regional differences in teaching quality (for example by engaging more with school leaders in those regions where quality could be most improved) and, in light of its findings, set out how it proposes to improve the quality of teaching in the Midlands and the North of England specifically.
6. The DfE must set out its plans for improving the quality of CPD available to teachers, its expectations for how much CPD teachers should undertake and how improvements in CPD will be paid for.

The Public Accounts Committee will now be looking to hear from teachers and former teachers about their experiences before taking the DfE’s response in April 2018.


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5 thoughts on “Slap on the wrist for DfE: ‘get a grip on retention’

  1. Handed my notice in on Thursday after sixteen years in education. Teaching used to be a well-regarded profession, now everyone, including students, think they know how to do the job better than we do.

  2. I am a 43 year old teacher. I was pushed out of my last school after 12 years as I was expensive and replaced by cheaper teachers.I am now doing supply but have been unable to get a full time post as although I am experienced NQTs are cheaper. Experienced teachers are not valued anymore just cheap teachers!

  3. I am not a teacher, but I have tried to enter the teaching profession without sucess. I completed my first placement at a college, my second placement was at an outstanding school.

    I tried to do my best in teaching kids of all ages. However, my mentor, instead of supporting me and helping me to develop my skills in teaching, used their role, instead, as an examiner. She and my training college always compared me with themselves. This I found to be unfair. I was just a training teacher trying to work out and develop my skill in becoming a good and become a competent teacher, yet my mentors expected me to be teaching like a pro.

    I was not a young person entering teaching but instead had more than 25 years of experience in the industry. I had so much to offer to young people. I know that not being able to teach young kids in my first placement did not help me but it was not my fault. This meant that I was going to take a little longer to learn about teaching year 7 kids.

    This has really disillusion me in this teaching profession. There is so much storage of Science teachers in schools, yet it is made so dificult to enter this profession.

  4. Totally agree with Sophie Hanse’s comment, I am a 54 year old science teacher who was also pushed out of my last school after 14 years as I was expensive and replaced by cheaper NQTs teachers.I am now doing general supply but have been unable to get a part time post because NQTs are so much cheaper. The elephant in the room in Wales and England is that Experienced teachers over the age of 45, especially if part time, have been culled by most schools to save money to meet relentless government budget cuts. Experienced teachers are definetly not valued anymore, just cheap NQT teachers who know no better and struggle with the ridiculous pressure being placed upon them with this performance related, data driven environment. Then schools rehire experienced staff through supply agencies for as little as £50 a day, calling them cover supervisors and not recognising a teachers QTS. Not able to pay into their TPS pension anymore or get any sick pay. It’s scandolous. The experienced teachers not only suffer, but also the pupils as a wealth of pedogody is lost! It needs to stop now!

  5. Nothing worse than a mentor whose comments are more negatively weighted than positive. I have waited 17 years to do a PGCE and now that I have started, I am actively looking for an exit strategy when I finish. Experience, intuition and plain common sense are disdained in favour of gleaming, high-tech lesson plans. Quite sad, really.

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