Headteacher Retention Research

Project Director: Karen Wespieser
Project Leader: Sarah Lynch
Sponsor: NFER, Ambition School Leadership
End date: March 2017

Recruiting and retaining teachers is a widely recognised challenge for the education profession. More recently, challenges around headteacher recruitment and retention have also been highlighted.

It has become clear that increased recruitment at all levels must also be complemented with effective retention strategies if concerns over the long term sustainability of the workforce are to be addressed. However, there is a lack of evidence around this issue, particularly about the characteristics of schools that face the greatest challenge attracting and keeping headteachers.

This research will provide a clear analysis of patterns in headteacher retention across the sector. It will highlight those schools that face the biggest challenges retaining their leaders.

The report will provide a qualitative insight into the motivations of headteachers who stay in their role, move schools or leave the profession entirely. By exploring why leaders opt to stay in or leave their roles it will identify practical steps to help schools, governors and policy-makers keep more headteachers in the profession.


We will use a combination of quantitative analysis of the School Workforce Census and qualitative analysis of telephone interviews with headteachers.

Further information about this research

If you are interested in receiving the report when it is available sign up using the form below.


Project code: LFSC