IRIS Elements: How to increase teacher retention image

IRIS Elements: How to increase teacher retention

For many, teaching isn’t just a career – it’s a calling. But that doesn’t stop thousands of teachers walking away from the classroom for good every year. 

onMonday 17 June 2024

Tackling teacher retention in UK schools and trusts

For many, teaching isn’t just a career – it’s a calling. But that doesn’t stop thousands of teachers walking away from the classroom for good every year. 

Schools and multi-academy trusts hoping to retain teaching talent have their work cut out for them, but with the right recruitment and retention strategies in place, there’s plenty of hope yet. 

Why is teacher retention in the UK a problem? 

It’s no secret that the education sector is facing a retention crisis. According to the DfE, almost 40,000 UK teachers quit teaching during the 2021/22 academic year – the highest since records began in 2010. 

There are any number of reasons that schools and trusts are struggling to keep good educators in their classrooms, from admin overload to lack of career progression. 

It’s a complex problem – but thankfully, there are effective strategies and solutions to keep school staff supported, motivated and committed. 

The secret to a good teacher recruitment and retention strategy? Seeing the bigger picture 

Before you start building an effective teacher recruitment or retention strategy, you need to understand what’s going well and what needs improving. 

You can achieve this by: 

  • Holding exit interviews with departing staff to gather data on why they leave 

  • Using HR software to track ongoing career development and identify areas of concern.

  • Collating data on measurable performance metrics for teachers, like exam results. 

You can use these insights to inform your recruitment and retention strategies.

A guide to workforce management for schools and trusts 

Explore this free guide to workforce management in the education sector and discover strategies for improving:

  • Staff absence management  

  • Teacher training and CPD 

  • Teacher and staff retention 

  • Performance management  

  • Recruitment and onboarding. 

Plus, read about specialist education software that can help you increase teacher retention in your school or trust. 


Improve teacher retention with a joined-up recruitment strategy 

A robust recruitment and onboarding process with a joined-up HR system means schools and trusts can:  

  • Bring candidates on board faster

  • Integrate new starters earlier (especially if they’re not due to start immediately)  

  • Provide new starters with essential resources and support, ensuring staff are quickly aligned with the school’s mission.

How to increase teacher retention using your workforce management strategy 

Teacher retention is a complex issue, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but this list of powerful workforce management approaches could help your school or and trust keep your staff on board. 

Support new starters from day one 

Education recruitment is a competitive market schools and trusts can’t afford to miss the opportunity to get new starters on onboard as soon as the contracts are signed. If you’re a school or trust with a comprehensive HR system, consider enrolling your new starters onto the system as soon as possible. This means your employee has access to: 

  • Onboarding information 

  • Induction materials 

  • Essential policies and procedures

Not only will this get the induction process rolling, it can help new starters feel involved and valued even before they’ve started working at the school. In some cases, it may be months before a new teacher or member of staff is due to start their contract. By allowing them access to your HR system before their first day, you’re establishing that all-important communication and making them feel part of the team. 

Facilitate flexible working 

Like most UK workers, teachers and school staff have the right to request flexible working measures. For schools and trusts with the right processes in place, this can become an opportunity to retain talent by giving staff what they want. A powerful HR system that tracks staff working patterns can help you monitor who is working when. In some cases, two teachers might be able to cover a particular class or subject via a “job share” arrangement. Having a robust HR system could help you facilitate this; for example, managing complex payroll considerations. 

While flexible working isn’t as easy to implement in schools as it might be in an office, it’s still possible – and there are software solutions out there that can help you manage it. 

Focus on wellbeing 

Teaching can be a challenging vocation, with significant demands on people’s time and mental resources. By supporting staff with wellbeing tools, schools and trusts can help prevent burnout and keep more valuable teaching talent on board. 

Having a robust HR system that allows you to track and monitor wellbeing can help. Leadership can use data relating to wellbeing – e.g. absence rates – to make better-informed decisions to tackle the challenges teachers are facing on the ground. This kind of overview can be especially helpful when you’re a MAT trying to spot trends across your various schools and academies.  

Wellbeing is particularly crucial when it comes to supporting early career teachers, who are more likely to walk away from the profession than their established peers. 

Rethink staff cover and absence management  

Absences happen, which is why schools and trusts need a responsive joined-up system to sort out cover. Otherwise, you end up leaning on existing staff to fill in for colleagues, adding to their workload and giving them more reason to hand in their notice. 

With the right absence management system, schools can create and maintain a pool of substitute teaching talent they can call on when a teacher can’t make it into school. With just a few clicks, schools can identify and secure a suitable substitute. Larger multi-academy trusts could even create positions for floating teachers who work across several schools. It’s a cost-efficient solution that minimises disruption to students and, potentially, offers an exciting opportunity for early career teachers to work within multiple contrasting settings across the trust. 

Optimise teacher training and CPD 

Training and continual professional development (CPD) is key to teacher retention – but how can schools and trusts maximise the effectiveness of their CPD strategy? 

Having a system or process that lets you look at performance and absence trends on a wider scale can help leadership make better decisions around CPD. An HR system that lets managers log progress or feedback about a particular module can provide invaluable data and insight into trends. You can also retain teaching talent by making sure you’re helping them meet their goals. While school or trust-wide CPD is important, don’t forget to provide staff training that’s relevant to their individual career aspirations. 

Empower your administrators 

Your admin team keeps your school or trust running smoothly – and making their lives easier can help improve retention across the board. 

The right HR system will have automation features that minimise admin and data duplication for both administrative and teaching staff. Not having to fill in endless paperwork can be the difference between a teacher deciding to stay or go. When your administrative team is properly resourced, HR processes become more streamlined. Your admin team can use your HR system to track data, provide reports, and monitor maintenance and resources. 

Improve your teacher retention strategy with smarter workforce management solutions 

When it comes to schools and multi-academy trusts, the secret to success is having the right people in the right places. 

From finding out what your staff value to implementing a retention strategy that aligns with your wider vision, find a solution to make the most of the incredible talent across your school or trust. 

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