Press release

Being part of Multi-Academy Trusts may help schools in challenging areas to recruit and retain teachers

27 June 2017

Multi-academy trusts (MATs) can offer a mechanism for getting teachers to teach in schools with disadvantaged pupil intakes that might otherwise struggle to recruit and retain staff, a new study finds.

Research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), funded by the Nuffield Foundation, analyses the extent of staff redeployment across MATs. It suggests that MATs have internal teacher labour markets that are somewhat distinct from the teacher labour market in the local area outside of the MAT. Using data from the School Workforce Census, the NFER analysis shows that when teachers and senior leaders move to a different school in the same MAT, they are more likely to move to a school with a more disadvantaged intake than a school with a less disadvantaged intake. This is in contrast to teachers more generally, who are more likely to move to a school with a less disadvantaged intake. This suggests that the strategic approach MATs can take towards workforce management might provide a mechanism for deploying staff to schools in disadvantaged areas.

Previous research has highlighted that schools with the most disadvantaged pupil intakes tend to have more inexperienced teachers, more unqualified teachers and higher staff turnover, suggesting that these schools face greater difficulties in hiring staff. With mounting concern about teacher shortages in England, increasing policy attention has focussed on how best to support schools that are struggling the most to recruit and retain teachers.

The research also found that the level of staff movement within a MAT is particularly high in MATs that have more schools and have schools that are clustered closer together.

Jack Worth, a senior economist at NFER said: “MATs are an important and growing feature of the school landscape in England. As the legal employers of all staff in their schools, MAT leaders have the opportunity to redeploy teachers and senior leaders to where they are most needed in their academy trust. Our analysis shows that they are making use of these opportunities by encouraging teachers to move within the MAT. It is particularly encouraging to find that teachers are tending to move to schools with more disadvantaged intakes, as these are the schools that tend to find it hardest to hire staff.”

Teacher Dynamics in Multi-Academy Trusts’ (1) is the second Research Update in a series that is part of a major new research project, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the teacher workforce in England.


For further information contact: Sundip Gill 01753 637218, Pippa Cox 01753 637177 or Jane Parrack 01753 637245

Notes for editors

  1. Worth, J. (2017). Teacher Retention and Turnover Research. Research Update 2: Teacher Dynamics in Multi-Academy Trusts. Slough: NFER.
  2. 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. @NFER
  3. The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being in the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy and also works to build capacity in education, science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation is funding this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at