Training and retaining teachers: nine things we’ve learned this week

Research shows that it can be difficult to get into teacher training and dropout rates vary by age, location and route

Getting people into teacher training and then into teaching is somewhat of a skilled art, three new government reports suggest.

A study from research group Education Datalab, commissioned by the Department for Education, estimates how likely teachers are to stay in the profession after their training based on where they train and what route they take.

Other pieces of research look into what motivates people to enter teaching – and what obstacles they face.

The reports find:

  1. The key reason for going into teaching, according to a study from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), is to have a positive impact on people’s lives – but the key factor for choosing a particular teacher training route is whether it is nearby.
  2. Information on teaching careers can be “confusing, contradictory and overwhelming”, the IES says. Just a quarter of those registering an interest on the Get Into Teaching website actually apply for initial teacher training.
  3. The Education Datalab report says that those on school-based training are more likely to be in teaching initially after qualification.
  4. But it adds that full-time university routes have similar retention rates by year three – suggesting that new teachers may be taking a gap year after initial qualification.
  5. Retention rates, it notes, are higher for women under 24 than for the population as a whole. But within this group there are large differences in staying-on rates between those on postgraduate and undergraduate teacher training courses. Undergraduates are less likely to be working as teachers after gaining qualified teacher status (QTS).
  6. Teach First has the highest retention rate three months after gaining QTS – but two years and three months after QTS it has poorer retention rates than other routes.
  7. Perhaps not surprisingly, those areas with the greatest demand for teachers are where more trainees are in work in the first year after teaching.
  8. The study also finds that individuals who train part-time or are older have poorer retention rates. This may reflect other family commitments.
  9. Returning to teaching can be difficult for those who have taken a break, according to a survey of 107 school leaders carried out by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and the Association of School and College Leaders. It finds that heads are concerned about returners’ lack of recent experience and reasons for leaving the profession.

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