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#NAHTconf: The government must help schools to retain teachers, says NAHT

Today (Friday 3 May), hundreds of school leaders are gathering at NAHT’s Annual Conference in Telford, where they will be calling for the government to take urgent action to improve teacher retention.

A recent member survey by NAHT shows that for the fifth consecutive year schools are struggling to recruit across all roles, from teachers to senior leaders. But it is the retention of experienced teachers that is revealed as a growing concern:

·         67% of school leaders say they are aware of some staff having left the teaching profession for reasons other than retirement in the last five years – 75% said it was due to workload pressures, and 75% said it was to find a better work-life balance

·         37% of school leaders say they are struggling to recruit due to the number of teachers leaving the profession – up from just 15% in 2014

·         Schools are struggling to recruit to leadership roles especially – for head teacher vacancies 66% struggled to recruit and 12% failed to recruit at all; for middle leadership roles – posts carrying a teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) or special educational need co-ordinator (SENCo) responsibility – 59% struggled to recruit and 20% failed to recruit at all; and the top role schools failed to recruit to was head of school (27%)

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Teaching can be one of the most rewarding careers imaginable, yet workload, high-stakes accountability, insufficient funding, and continuing real-terms cuts to teachers’ and school leaders’ pay drives many committed professionals out of teaching.

“Our survey findings come as no surprise. They echo official statistics showing that the proportion of working-age teachers leaving the profession has increased each year since 2010, in both primary and secondary. The facts are no longer in dispute.

“The Secretary of State has made finding a solution to the recruitment and retention crisis on of his department’s key priorities, and NAHT has welcomed the broad intent of the DfE’s recently published recruitment and retention strategy; the centrepiece of which is the Early Career Framework, which could dramatically improve the experiences of newly qualified teachers.

“But more is needed to retain mid and late career teachers. To create a positive proposition for a career in teaching the essential components include competitive pay, attractive and flexible working conditions, a healthy work-life balance, opportunities for career-long continuing professional development, and lower risk ways of holding schools to account.”

Patrick Foley, head teacher of Southborough Primary School in Bromley, is proposing a motion* calling for the government to take steps specifically to help retain experienced teachers, including opportunities for sabbatical and career breaks, and restoring the differentials between education pay grades. He says:

“Last year the government ignored the STRB’s recommendation that all teachers and school leaders should have the same pay uplift, and instead awarded more experienced teacher and leaders a real-terms pay cut. While the pay rise for new teachers was sorely needed, this was a real blow for retention of existing staff. We need more experienced teachers to stay in the profession – they are the school leaders of the future. But they won’t stay unless they are better treated. School leaders currently work an average of more than 60 hours a week, under the pressure of a deeply punitive accountability system, and all for year after year of real-terms pay cuts.

“We urge the government to restore the differentials between education pay grades, and to take forward the proposals to develop opportunities for sabbatical and career breaks, announced by the secretary of state at NAHT’s Annual Conference last year.”

* Motion 22a. Conference calls on NAHT to:

·         urge government to implement the recommendations of the independent pay review body and restore the differentials between education pay grades,

·         press the government to take forward proposals to develop opportunities for sabbatical and career breaks, announced by the secretary of state at last year’s national conference, and to build on this work to include school leaders, and

·         call on the government to develop a fully-funded induction and mentoring programme for new head teachers.

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363


Email :
press.office@naht.org.uk