Press release

NFER undertaking major new analysis to improve understanding of teacher retention and workforce turnover

3 March 2017

A major education research grant from the Nuffield Foundation is funding a new 14-month research project by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to gain more detailed understanding of the factors associated with teacher retention, turnover and returning to teaching, and how the teaching profession compares to other professions, such as nursing and policing.

Recruiting and retaining enough teachers to serve growing numbers of pupils is one of the key challenges currently facing England’s education system. NFER has already undertaken a programme of research on the teaching workforce – Engaging teachers and Should I stay or should I go? – exploring how engaged and supported teachers feel and how this relates to their intention to remain or to leave the profession.

The researchers will investigate these topics in much more detail, broadening understanding of the issues and potential strategies to address them. A series of working papers and roundtable meetings are planned throughout the project, as well as an interim report in July 2017 and a final report planned for publication in early 2018.

Commenting on the announcement, NFER Chief Executive Carole Willis said: “Against a backdrop of increasing pupil numbers and teacher shortages in key subjects, understanding the dynamics of the teacher workforce is important to assist policy makers and system leaders formulate effective responses to this important issue. NFER experts will provide new statistical analyses and draw on expert knowledge to look at the implications and identify possible solutions. This is an area where we have built considerable research knowledge. We are delighted that the Nuffield Foundation has awarded our research programme with a grant.”

Josh Hillman, Director of Education at the Nuffield Foundation said: “Teacher recruitment and retention is an issue of critical importance to the education system and has a direct impact on the quality of education children receive, particularly in shortage subjects and in certain areas of the country. Previous work funded by the Foundation relating to the costs and benefits of different teacher training routes highlights the need for a different policy approach in order to help secure a more stable supply of teachers, and we hope this NFER analysis will help to identify what that might be.”

If you would like to register your interest in this project and its publications please visit: For more on NFER’s work in the School Workforce area, visit


For further information please contact: Jane Parrack 01753 637245, Maryann Thomas 01753 637161 or Pippa Cox 01753 637177

Note to editors:


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

Nuffield Foundation

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