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Retention & Recruitment: How to Support Your Staff

With Emma Hollis, Executive Director of NASBTT

In recent years retention has become a more relevant issue than recruitment. How can further training help teachers preserve their motivation and sense of fulfillment?

“The keywords to use here are ‘entitlement’ and ‘support’. In too many cases, professional development post-ITT is either patchy in terms of quality and quantity of provision or is used as a tick-box exercise designed to meet generic outcomes rather than focusing on the individual’s needs. Teaching is an incredibly complex and all-consuming career choice and the need for support and professional development does not simply stop after nine months of training. Schools now need to think about their professional development offerings in wider terms, including supporting their teachers (at all stages in their careers) with key issues such as workload, mental health, subject knowledge development and exposure to the latest research findings.”

From your perspective, what tools have teachers at their
disposal to improve their own wellbeing?

“There are some fantastic support networks out there, including the Education Support Partnership which offers a range of services to teachers, including a free helpline. Often, however, there is a stigma attached to seeking help, which needs to change. Too often, it is the cultural norm in schools to be working late, taking piles of work home and spending weekends marking. For teachers entering the profession, faced with this as an accepted culture, speaking out in defense of their own wellbeing can be an extremely difficult thing to do.”

Are teachers prepared to identify and address the factors
that affect the wellbeing of their pupils?

“Pupil wellbeing is a complex issue which is tied into so many other factors that ‘preparedness’ is almost impossible to define. I think the key skill teachers need to be equipped with is the knowledge of who to approach to ask for help and support when faced with an issue they don’t yet know how to tackle. It would be impossible for anyone professional to have all of the knowledge ever needed for all of the factors that affect wellbeing. But what they should have are clear signposts for when and where to seek support. Organisations such as Place2Be offer some useful resources for teachers.”

What’s your assessment of the government’s new Early
Career Framework (ECF), which will come into force in Autumn 2021?

“We are broadly in favour of the aspiration for all early career teachers to be entitled to a package of support and development. We are working hard to ensure that the delivery mechanism which is agreed for the ECF is in ITT providers’ favour and does not overcomplicate the system – as part of this, we are pushing for a bigger role for providers in the ‘appropriate body’ sector. We do, however, feel that £350 million is not enough to cover the delivery of the ECF across the country and mentor training. We are especially concerned that schools may not be able to fund effective mentoring, which is the key to a successful roll-out of this policy.”

What type of training do teachers need to be futureproof,
in terms of digital learning?

“Digital learning, by its very nature, will move swiftly. Teachers can only be ‘futureproofed’ by being encouraged to have enquiring minds which seek out innovation, whilst being discerning enough to recognise and reject digital ‘fads’. The need to keep up-to-date with developments in education is embedded within the Teachers’ Standards and digital learning is no different from any other area in that sense.”

With renewed focus on curriculum, what is needed from
teachers to be capable of preparing pupils for future careers?

“There is a much quoted cliché in education which states that teachers have the impossible task of training children for jobs that don’t yet exist – and this is one of the realities of the job which teachers must accept. Inevitably, the world will change more rapidly than we can imagine and preparing pupils for future careers can seem a daunting task. Instead of focusing on specific careers, I think the job of the education sector as a whole is to prepare pupils to be purposeful members of society. A love of learning, curiosity, awe and wonder, innovation, problem-solving, a sense of community, respect, tolerance, the ability to communicate, adaptability and acceptance of change – these are all qualities which will stand pupils in good stead for the future: whatever that may look like!”

Emma Hollis, Executive Director of the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) will be speaking on our recruitment panel on the 14th November at the Schools & Academies Show. Join her session, get your ticket here