The heightened interest around teacher recruitment and retention in the last few years (Doherty and Gerrard, 2016; Lynch et al., 2016; DfE, 2017; Ward, 2017) has given rise to the timeliness of a report published by the NFER and the Nuffield Foundation. Is the Grass Greener Beyond Teaching? (Bamford and Worth in 2017) presents a robust, independent analysis of teachers’ motivations to leave teaching. Many other publications, especially those from the Department for Education (DfE), seem to delight in presenting charts of statistical data telling us the numbers of teachers currently in the profession, their age bands, the numbers leaving, as well as demographical information showing the areas in the United Kingdom most hit with attrition rates. Typically, any analysis of the factors causing this exodus in the profession and recommendations to actually curb it, are less developed.
What immediately engaged me with this report, was how the format makes the information easily accessible to the reader. The key findings are made clear and given early on under four headlines (outlined below). Secondly, it does not swamp you with data or skew data to present a picture of teacher retention that suggests all is well and the profession is in a healthy state. Instead, it directly addresses the issue using a non-biased data set from the Understanding Society survey (ISER, 2016). This is the largest over-time survey in the UK and involved 40,000 households where individuals were tracked over 6 years and those who were teachers were observed at points over the six phases of the survey, an average of 4.5 times. The report investigated teacher retention tracking the destinations of teachers who had left and how their pay, working hours and job satisfaction was affected. Valuable recommendations are made at the end of the report on the types of interventions that could improve retention in the profession.
The research poses the early question, ‘Where do teachers go when they leave the profession and how do their circumstances change after leaving?’
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