Navigating Challenges in Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Key Insights from our Roundtable Event

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Key insights from our Roundtable Event

In December 2023, the UK government published data that confirmed it had missed its target for secondary teacher recruitment by 50 per cent this year. Initial teacher training census statistics show that the primary target was missed by 4 per cent. Overall, the total target for recruitment to teacher training for both primary and secondary was missed by 38 per cent.

We recently had the opportunity to facilitate a Roundtable discussion with Stone King for HR professionals in the Education Sector on Navigating Challenges in Teacher Recruitment and Retention. We are grateful for the participants’ contribution to the discussion, where everyone gained from the diverse viewpoints and experiences presented.

To build on our recent gathering, we are pleased to share some pivotal insights from the discussions.

Recruitment targets

  • There is a notable decline in recruitment numbers, with new entrants to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) falling to 28,991, a 20% decrease from 36,159 in 2021/2022 and a further 5% reduction in 2023/2024, as reported by the Department for Education.
  • A significant 47% of teachers identify behaviour management as a major hurdle in recruiting and retaining quality teachers, in addition to the issue of high workloads.
  • Reducing workload remains a top priority, with practical approaches like live marking, centralised curriculum development, and consistent support from senior leaders was discussed.
  • While certain aspects of workload are unavoidable, Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) focus on training programs to enhance personal resilience.

Flexible working

  • Progress in flexible working arrangements in schools has been slow due to challenges including timetabling logistics, parity of provision, the need for teachers to be student-facing, and other cultural and attitudinal factors.
  • There was an understanding that some roles needed a consistent approach (e.g. Heads of Year), which made it difficult to offer greater flexibility.
  • Despite these challenges, there’s an effort to implement flexible working conditions that surpass basic legal requirements, with MATs seeking successful case studies for reference.

Recruiting non-UK teachers and trainees

  • While recruiting qualified teachers from countries like Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and South Africa has been beneficial, it is not a complete solution.
  • Instead of focusing on international teachers, more should be done by the government to address the recruitment and retention issues of all subjects by improving terms and conditions and making the profession more attractive for UK-based teachers.
  • Effective induction programs, including mentoring and coaching, are essential for supporting new staff. Building relationships within diverse communities and engaging with Black, Asian, and minority ethnic colleagues is crucial for addressing recruitment and retention disparities.

Additional Information

Note that the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 grants employees the right to request flexible working from “day one” starting April 6, 2024.

If you’d like to know more about how In Diverse Company can support your educational institution, please check out our ED&I in Education Offer. Together, we can address these challenges and foster an inclusive, resilient education system.

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