Recruiting and retaining teachers

Influential report uses Understanding Society data

The supply of teachers in England is a major policy issue, with pupil numbers rising, increasing numbers of teachers leaving the profession, and shortages of trainee teachers, according to a new case study from Understanding Society.

The case study uses data from Understanding Society, collected between 2009 and 2016, and is based on a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER): Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England. The report explores teacher retention, turnover and people returning to the profession in order to give government and people working in education a good understanding of the issue so they can address the challenge.

Since the report came out, the Department for Education has published a Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which drew on the research findings.

NFER used Understanding Society data to study teachers’ labour market behaviour – finding, for example, that teachers have a higher rate of leaving their profession than nurses and police officers. The report also shows that:

  • The rates at which teachers leave the profession and move school have both risen since 2010, giving schools more vacancies to fill each year
  • Pay is not the most important thing – improving job satisfaction is a prime motivation for leaving teaching
  • There are not enough opportunities for part-time working – and a lack of part-time and flexible working opportunities is one of the main barriers for people who want to return to teaching

The report makes some important recommendations about offering teachers more and better part-time and flexible working which could improve retention in the longer term, several of which have since informed the Government’s strategy for meeting the teacher supply challenge.

Read the case study

Read the NFER report Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England