Government to offer teachers a year’s paid sabbatical to improve retention
The government has long been accused of failing to get a grip with teacher retention in the UK. You don’t need to be in the education sector to know that it’s suffering a teacher shortage, with people quitting the profession in droves as they seek careers with better pay, shorter hours and more manageable workloads.
But lo and behold, it seems the government is finally taking action – at least, to inspire experienced teachers to stay in the classroom.
Reporting on the news, the Guardian writes that the government plans to offer up to a year’s paid sabbatical to teachers after ten years of service. Addressing over 350 school leaders in Liverpool last Friday, education secretary Damian Hinds unveiled a £5m pilot scheme aimed at ensuring that teaching remains “an attractive, fulfilling profession.”
Only teachers with more than ten years of experience can apply for the sabbatical, which according to a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson is designed to reward long service.
It has been suggested that teachers could use their sabbatical to study or work in a sector relevant to their field. For teachers to be accepted, they must be able to prove that the year out will in some way enhance their teaching.
In other proposals for the sector, Hinds announced: “We will be introducing an enhanced offer of support for new teachers – including extending the induction period of two years – and we will work with the profession to develop a new early career content framework that will set out all the training and mentoring a teacher is entitled to in those first years.”
General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and former secondary school head, Geoff Barton, said the plans were crucial to prevent schools haemorrhaging experienced teachers.
“It is vital these proposals are properly funded by the government and that they do not end up becoming yet another additional unfunded cost on schools.”
He said the ASCL urges the Treasury to make sure enough funding is secured to see these plans through, adding the issue “is too important to be allowed to founder on the rocks of austerity.”
The education industry is experiencing a shortfall of 30,000 teaching staff and although the primary recruitment target for this year was met, just 80% of staff needed for secondary schools joined the profession.
Results from the National Education Union survey found showed that eight in ten teachers have considered quitting the profession due to workloads. An online Teacher Tapp poll also uncovered that just half of teachers see themselves in the profession a decade from now.
The sabbatical programme would make up part of a package of measures aimed at introducing more flexible working initiatives into the profession, with the sector particularly slow at offering part-time and job share options.
The plans would put classroom teaching on par with similar initiatives used in other sectors, such as higher education, said the DfE.
The advice we’d give to any school looking to improve retention rates is this: find out what your staff value most, and make sure you’re offering it. This might be flexible working options, training and development opportunities, or maybe they simply want you to help them strike that golden work-life balance.
The step before this is attracting quality candidates to apply for jobs at your school, which you can do by creating your own Talent Pool. This platform will allow you to shout about your USPs through your personalised profile, and build meaningful relationships with candidates to inspire them to join your school. Find out more here.