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Teacher Recruitment and Retention: 5 Recommendations for Solving the Crisis

5 Recommendations on Solving Teacher Recruitment and Retention

A Profession in Crisis?

It’s not hard to find reports that schools are struggling to recruit or retain teachers and the word ‘crisis’ is often heard. A recent study from the Association of School and College Leaders, found that over 60 % of the 766 leaders polled had some or severe difficulty retaining teachers.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the ASCL, states that one third of teachers are leaving the profession after 5 years.   With this mind, schools with their greater autonomy and increased school business staff can start to consider their own staff retention strategy and what can be done to stem the number of teachers leaving the profession.

The Same Old Story 

Struggling to recruit and retain teachers in not a new phenomenon. The McNair Report (1944) sought to tackle teacher recruitment. Even in 1944 the Board of Education was thinking about addressing the “conditions of service which deter people from becoming teachers.”

Raising the status of teaching so “a sufficient number of men and women of quality will be attracted to the teaching profession,” was high on the agenda then, as it is now. Which begs the question, what has changed when it comes to teacher recruitment?

What is being done?

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Teaching has established a Special Interest Group (SIG) to tackle the problem of teacher supply and retention. Their report, March 2022, proposes 5 recommendations to raise the status of the profession in order to retain and recruit teachers.

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Recommendation 1: Policy liaison with professional bodies for coherence and longer-term planning

Educational policy reforms come thick and fast and from multiple bodies, such as the Department for Education, Ofsted or arms-length bodies. Schools and school leaders can struggle to keep up the latest policy developments or have insufficient time to implement them successfully. Rapid policy shifts can create instability and “increases opportunities for teacher and leader dissatisfaction.

The report states that a “coordinated approach to policymaking” would be helpful for schools. However, with 5 Secretaries of State for Education from 2019- 2022, and 9 in the last 8 years, consistency and long-term vision in policy construction may be difficult to achieve.

Furthermore, the report states due to the consistent change initiatives, they very rarely have the opportunity to fruition. A suggestion here is schools should be granted a preparation time before implementing major policy reforms. Allowing people to process, understand and adopt new practices is key feature of successful change management.

The paper also suggested that the DfE works closely with the wider professional bodies like the Chartered College of Teaching and the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers to “deliver a proactive apolitical approach to teacher supply needs.” This will compensate for politically driven policies which impact teacher supply.

Recommendation 2: Recognise and promote the role of teachers and school leaders in securing learning

The problem is here is that the press and wider media has not been “wholly supportive of the profession”, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.  However, it was during this time we saw the demands placed on schools increased, but with limited guidance form the DfE. The challenge is how can teachers gain the respect due for having taken on care roles and welfare support services?

The report suggests that the DfE and the media should work collaboratively to promote the extra tasks schools and teachers have undertaken. It goes on, Government should review funding for children, families and young people’s services. Social needs of pupils should be met by appropriate professionals such as social workers and mental health practitioners. In light of the present funding crisis in education, how this can be achieved at the moment is a question for debate.  

Recommendation 3: Increase job satisfaction for school teachers and leaders

Reduced feelings of wellbeing and autonomy in teachers and leaders has negatively impacted job satisfaction (Long and Danechi, 2021). With workload, accountability pressures and working patterns being listed as impacting factors.

The SIG calls for a review of the ‘unintended consequences’ of Ofsted. Work which does not relate to teaching and learning is often viewed with scepticism from teachers, as it is seen as adding to workloads. Even in 2015, 41% of over 43,000 surveyed teachers mentioned the ‘over bureaucratic nature of the work’ impacting on workload.

Successive governments have viewed accountability as a central facet of raising standards. Accountability culture within education is here and there don’t seem to be any steps to take it away. For accountability, and the impact it has on the profession, to be addressed in a meaningful manner, it would take a wholescale paradigm shift across the whole sector, starting with policy makers.

Interestingly, the SIG report calls for greater autonomy for school leaders. The academy structure by its very nature puts decision making in the hands of the C-level of Trust management. School leaders are making less and less of the decisions affecting their schools. Whilst teachers are increasingly enacting the decisions of others.

Recommendation 4: Improve School Funding  

Debates around funding are running rife at the moment, some schools are running the risk of running budgets at 2009 levels. This has implications across the sector, not just in terms of accessing resources but who is delivering lessons also.

According to the report, we’ve seen a rise in the number of TAs and HILTAs delivering lessons in an attempt to ease cover supply budgets. This raises the question of how much do we value quality first teaching and what compromises are schools willing to make with regards to quality instruction verses balancing the books?

One of the recommendations of the report is that teachers have a starting salary of £30,000 and highlights the steps taken in Quebec, where teachers receive non-performance related pay increments each year, regardless of extra responsibilities. Teachers there have high levels of wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Recommendation 5: Re-regulate teaching

Free Schools and Academies are able to employ staff without Qualified Teacher Status and use the title ‘teacher’. This deregulation has lowered the status of the profession.

As budgets become tighter, unqualified and ‘cheaper’ teachers may be increasingly utilised in order ease strain on finances. But this is not without impact, both on the profession but on pupil attainment also. Whilst TAs and HILTAs do some great work, children deserve be taught by a qualified practitioner.  Schools should provide initial teacher training routes for TAs and HILTAs looking to join the profession.

The report calls for QTS to be the minimum entry requirement to enter the profession, this should be a given. In Finland, teachers are required to have a Master’s degree and are viewed as having a valued position within society.  

The Chartered College for Teaching offers teachers the opportunity to gain Chartered Status, similar law, engineering and other professions. This training pathway will seek to support job satisfaction, the status of the profession and support wider professional development.


Something meaningful needs to be done about teacher recruitment and retention. Money alone will not solve this problem. A higher starting salary alone or simply raising teacher pay will not solve this problem. It runs deeper. The recommendations outlined in this blog would have far reaching consequences in supporting staff retention. But these recommendations would require a huge shift in thinking, it would reform the profession. Sadly, piecemeal, bit by bit, offerings of successive governments aimed at recruiting more teachers is a sticking plaster for a broken arm. 

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