The key to getting teachers in the classroom and keeping them there is more pay and a lighter workload, according to a new global study.
Higher salaries, plus performance and recruitment bonuses, have been shown to be effective in attracting teachers into the profession, particularly to work in challenging schools.
And strategies to reduce workload and improve working conditions have been successful in increasing classroom retention rates.
A shortage of qualified teachers is probably the most serious problem facing many schools today, not enough entrants into the profession and too many leaving after just a few years in the classroom.
On top of this, the fallout from the pandemic is that teaching has become less appealing, as one of the few remaining professions where it is virtually impossible to work from home.
Now researchers at the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), a U.K.-based charity, have examined evidence from around the world on the recruitment and retention strategies that show the most promise.
Although financial incentives have shown differing levels of success, rewards given directly to teachers – rather than distributed through schools – have shown the most promise.
A Chilean study, for example, found that bonuses of around 16% of annual salary had been effective in recruiting teachers to work in disadvantaged areas, while a U.S. study found that higher salaries for all teachers improved the quality of recruits, as measured by the college they attended and the match between their college major and the subject they taught.
But while financial incentives may help recruitment, they may have less impact on retention, with two U.S. studies finding that increased rewards did not keep teachers in the profession.
Researchers found a consistent link, however, between workload and retention, with heavier workloads consistently associated with lower retention levels.
Among the individual factors identified in research studies were teaching a specialist subject, as opposed to one where the teacher was not an expert, the level of challenge of assigned classes and the time available for planning.
Other studies identified induction support, coaching and mentoring, effective school leaders, collaboration between colleagues and professional development as factors aiding retention.
“We know that it’s great teaching that has the biggest impact on the learning of pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Professor Becky Francis, EEF chief executive.
“Supporting the recruitment and retention of teachers should be a central focus of any effective education system.”
The report is an important first step in understanding what can be done to attract and retain teachers, she said.
“These findings will be hugely helpful in sharpening the focus of our future research, making sure we put our resources behind trialling strategies with the greatest potential to make a difference in this crucial area,” Prof Francis added.
The findings echo those of a report by the U.K. charity Education Support, based on teacher surveys and focus groups and published earlier this week, which also concluded that financial incentives and workload reduction were key to ending the teacher shortage.
It was crucial to modernise working practices in schools, which resembled those of the 1970s rather than the 2000s, said Sinéad McBrearty, the charity’s chief executive.
Workload was even more important than salary in leading teachers to quit the classroom, the charity’s research found, with more than three quarters of teachers saying they would leave for a job which had a better work-life balance.
“If we can fix the retention crisis, we will also fix the recruitment crisis,” McBrearty said. “We’re not just trying to rebuild the lives of teachers, we’re trying to rebuild the reputation of the profession.”
While more pay and less work may seem obvious solutions to the teacher shortage, the research highlights which strategies may be most effective in aiding recruitment and retention, according to Dr Becky Taylor, of University College London, lead author of the EEF report.
It will also bolster teaching unions in their case for a bigger pay increase. Unions in England, for example, have held a series of strikes this year after rejecting a below-inflation 4.3% pay rise, which would also have meant schools would have to make cuts elsewhere.
“Through this review we have identified new and promising areas for future research into teacher recruitment and retention, which we hope in time will enable new strategies for attracting and retaining teachers in schools that serve disadvantaged communities, said Dr Taylor.
Read the full article here