Press release

New Analysis sheds light on teacher recruitment and retention

30 November 2015

NFER today releases its analysis of teachers joining and leaving the profession. The findings shed new light on the key issues that should inform policy responses to the teacher supply challenge in England.

Rising pupil numbers, shortfalls in new trainees and concerns over the proportion of teachers who say they are considering leaving the profession have put teacher recruitment and retention toward the top of the education policy agenda. The NFER report provides new insights into this complex topic, drawing on a range of different data sources including the Labour Force Survey (LFS) (2) and new findings from the NFER Teacher Voice panel.

Researchers reviewed the data on job moves in and out of teaching, which show that teacher numbers have actually been growing in recent years. Although around 10% leave each year, slightly greater numbers have been joining. This contrasts with some surveys reporting large numbers of teachers considering leaving the profession.

The research, published to coincide with the NFER Annual Reception, also found that more than half of teachers that leave take jobs in the education sector (excluding those who left to retire) and a similar proportion of non-student joiners were already working in the education sector. These findings have important implications for policymakers and those directly responsible for recruiting and retaining staff.

Significantly, teachers are not leaving for higher paid jobs, at least not in the short term. Data indicates that on average when teachers move they experience a 10% fall in wages compared with similar teachers who remain in teaching.

However, it is clear that more teachers will be needed in the future as pupil numbers are forecast to rise and too few teachers have been entering initial teacher training (ITT) in recent years. Furthermore, secondary schools face particular challenges, especially in some EBacc subjects. They face greater growth in pupil numbers, shortfalls in current ITT entrants, and higher reported numbers of teachers considering leaving the profession.

Carole Willis, Chief Executive of the NFER says: “Recruiting and retaining good quality teachers is a key issue facing the education system over the next 5-10 years. Understanding the types of jobs former teachers are going into and their underlying motivations is crucial for formulating an appropriate policy response.”

She continues: “In carrying out this analysis NFER has sought to take an independent view of the data and recognise the challenges faced in specific areas. It is important that statistics about the teaching workforce are reported as clearly as possible in order to add to understanding of the nature and scale of the teacher supply challenge, and to inform an effective, proportionate and well-targeted policy response. It is also worth remembering that surveys about people’s intentions do not always translate into action.”

The research, Should I Stay or Should I Go? NFER Analysis of Teachers Joining and Leaving the Profession, can be found at: /workforce.



For further information please contact Jane Parrack at NFER on 01753 637245.

Note to Editors:

  1. Should I Stay or Should I Go? NFER Analysis of Teachers Joining and Leaving the Profession. [NFER 30 November 2015] is published to coincide with the NFER Annual Reception to be held in London and at which Chief Executive, Carole Willis, will be delivering an address.
  2. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a quarterly household survey of the employment circumstances of the UK population, conducted by the Office for National Statistics. It tracks individuals’ employment over twelve months.

About NFER

NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects to provide evidence that improves education and the life chances of learners in the UK and beyond.; @TheNFER