Flexible development is key to staff retention – but how do you do it?

Flexible development is key to staff retention – but how do you do it?

By |2018-01-22T10:35:15+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Blogs, News|

In our last blog we gave advice on how to use your innovative CPD (and other great things you’re doing) to help recruit the best teachers. This time we’re going to look at retaining the excellent people you already have.

Research by the Department for Education shows that more teachers are leaving schools each year and more are leaving to do other things than retirement[1]. This is especially worrying given the young age profile of British teachers compared to other countries[2].

Preventing good staff leaving requires schools to first analyse the reasons why people step away from teaching. In some cases, this is because they need flexibility to care for children or parents or to follow their own independent passions and interests. In other cases, it is because they feel too pressurised by the short-term focus and demands of many schools and can’t see ways to develop their own careers.

How do you cope with this situation? Two obvious steps in response are to offer people the chance to develop for the long term in your school and to offer them as much flexibility as possible while doing so! The importance of offering this career autonomy was highlighted in last years’ report ‘The Talent Challenge[3]’ by LKMCo and Oceanova.  It compared the standardisation of processes in many schools and chains with the freedom offered by leading private sector employers like Google and 3M.

But how can you do this in schools? One way is to let teachers choose the focus for their long-term personal and professional development. Our work with schools across England focuses on enabling teachers to identify their own development needs, with support from experts and colleagues as needed. The use of real-time video stored securely online means that teachers can draw on their own lesson experiences and do it at the best time for them, rather than having to wait for the next INSET day or scheduled training session.

Dan Thomas, Executive Headteacher of the Learning for Life Partnership in Cheshire highlighted the way ‘the [LessonVU] system gives the ownership of professional development to the teachers, so they can reflect and develop their skills’. Head of Modern Languages at Hereford Academy, Marj Francis, made the clear link to her career development, saying ‘it’s helped me find my teaching passion again’!

But, can you take the idea further and help those who are living a more flexible life? We’ve been exploring the idea of engaging retired staff and those taking parental leave as experts – using their experience and expertise to help current teachers as mentors, using classroom footage from anywhere in the world. We’re also working with international chains of schools – what if you could travel and teach abroad while keeping in touch with your current team, or combine part-time teaching with a global mentoring role?

This is of course just one of many actions schools can take – but if you are doing something innovative, offering evidence-informed professional development (as advocated by Dame Alison Peacock of The Chartered College[4]) and thinking for the long term you’re in the best place to ride out the current recruitment and retention crisis!



[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/local-analysis-of-teacher-workforce-2010-to-2015

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jun/25/uk-primary-school-teachers-youngest-oecd

[3] https://cdn.lkmco.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/The-Talent-Challenge.pdf

[4] https://schoolsweek.co.uk/college-of-teaching-signs-pledge-to-use-evidence-based-practice/