Evaluation of the Return to Teaching Pilot Programme

Emily Buchanan, Caroline Sharp, Jack Worth, Kerry Martin, Susie Bamford and Zoe Des Clayes

28 June 2018

Research report on DfE website

NFER was commissioned by the Department for Education to provide an independent evaluation of the Return to Teaching pilot. This aimed to support qualified teachers to return to teaching EBacc subjects in secondary schools. The evaluation included surveys of returners, interviews with returners and school coordinators, and analysis of administrative data.

The programme attracted widespread interest from potential returners but the return on investment showed it was unlikely to represent good value for money.

Key Findings

  • A total of 5,729 people registered an interest and 354 returners received support between January and September 2016. Twenty-seven (eight per cent) were identified as teaching EBacc subjects in permanent teaching posts in state-funded secondary schools in November 2016.
  • The cost per additional returner was estimated at £37,400. This is similar to the cost of training a new teacher, but does not take account of the fact that returners are older and therefore likely to have a shorter career.
  • The analysis identified five types of returner: idealist; opportunist; career breaker; mover; and pragmatist. The return rate among career breakers was double that of other types.
  • The programme largely offered the kind of support returners were seeking and provided flexibility to suit individual returners’ needs. The three common barriers to employment were: the timing of the pilot, which meant that there were few teaching posts immediately available; the continuing support needs of some returners; and the limited availability of part-time work.

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