Keeping teachers engaged is key to teacher retention according to new research
9 September 2016
If you engage your teachers they are more likely to stay – that’s the message from new research published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research.
Job satisfaction, having adequate resources, reward and recognition, and being well supported by management were among the factors associated with successful retention.
Maths teachers and senior leaders have high levels of engagement and are less likely to consider leaving. However, science teachers and experienced male teachers are more likely to consider leaving.
The report, Engaging Teachers – NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention, also reveals that while a majority of teachers are not considering leaving the profession, the proportion who are has significantly increased in the last year from 17 to 23 per cent. While smaller proportions actually leave the profession (10 per cent in 2015, including those retiring), this figure has increased in recent years, suggesting that retention pressures are growing.
Recruiting and retaining enough teachers to serve growing numbers of pupils is one of the key challenges currently facing education in England. This research explores how engaged and supported teachers feel and how this has changed over the last year, and analyses how it relates to their intention to remain in the profession or to leave. It includes recommendations to improve teacher retention for those with a role in helping to retain the current teacher workforce.
The report follows the NFER Should I Stay or Should I Go? analysis of teachers joining and leaving the profession, published in November 2015, that shed new light on the numbers of teachers who actually leave and where they go.
Today’s new evidence was obtained by NFER researchers using NFER’s Teacher Voice, a representative panel of state school teachers, and through a series of in-depth interviews. It shows:
- The majority of teachers are not considering leaving the profession. The proportion of teachers considering leaving has, however, increased significantly in the last year from 17 to 23 per cent. While smaller proportions than this actually leave, this figure has also increased.
- There is a strong interaction between teacher engagement and retention. Half of teachers are “engaged” and of these, the vast majority (90 per cent) are not considering leaving. “Disengaged” teachers are much more likely to be considering leaving, but only 15 per cent of teachers are disengaged.
- Engagement underpins retention. Protective factors associated with retention include job satisfaction, having adequate resources, reward and recognition, and being well supported by management. We found no evidence of any influence of a school’s proportion of free school meal pupils, academy status or region on intent to leave the profession.
- Maths teachers and senior leaders have high levels of engagement and are less likely to be considering leaving. Conversely, science teachers, and experienced male teachers have a heightened risk of leaving.
NFER Chief Executive, Carole Willis, said: “We know from research that NFER published last year that teacher numbers have remained stable for some time but that pupil numbers are set to grow. Whilst there is a growing evidence base related to teacher recruitment, it is also important to consider teacher retention. This is exactly why NFER, an educational research charity, has carried out this research to provide more insights into what is actually happening in our state schools, including teachers’ intentions. We believe it is important to continue to provide evidence on this key challenge and we are now looking at the issues around the retention and recruitment of headteachers.”
Notes for editors:
- Lynch, S., Worth, J., Bamford, S. and Wespieser, K. (2016). Engaging Teachers: NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention Slough: NFER (ISBN: 978-1-911039-19-8)
- NFER is a leading independent provider of rigorous research and insights in education, working to create an excellent education for all children and young people. We are a charity and our robust and innovative research, assessments and other services are widely known and used by key decision-makers. Any surplus generated is reinvested in projects to support our charitable purpose.