Teachers are to be given more help to job share and lighter workloads in a bid to inspire experienced staff to remain in the classroom, reveals a new teacher recruitment and retention initiative launched by UK Government Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP.
Stephen Tierney Multi Academy Trust CEO and Chair, Headteachers’ Roundtable Group comments: “The Department for Education’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy marks a fork in the road; we may look back and see its development, more specifically the Early Career Framework, as one of the most significant turning points of the decade.”
What is it?
The national recruitment and retention strategy, hailed as the first of its kind in England by the education secretary, is intended to overhaul the profession by relieving traditional burdens on teachers, like marking and lesson planning. It also aims to lessen more modern hindrances such as data entry and email overload.
The strategy describes Four key barriers and strategy priorities to address them:
- The wider context in which headteachers operate can create pressure that leads to excessive workload that distracts teachers from teaching
- Not enough early career teachers receive the high-quality support they need to build the foundation for a successful career
- A career in teaching does not always adapt to the expertise and lives of teachers
- The process to become a teacher is too complicated and burdensome
Speaking to the Guardian ahead of the launch, Hinds explained that school leaders, in particular male leaders, and their outdated attitudes could be preventing the adoption of practices including flexible working. Hinds references what he calls a ‘job share Match.com,’ in his proposals, which will allow teachers wanting to work part-time find someone to fill the gap.
“Part of my job is making sure that everybody else knows how hard teachers work,” Hinds acknowledged. He said he wanted to encourage parents “not to never email a school or a teacher, because that can be important, but to exercise some restraint, knowing that there [are] many other things that teachers have to do.”
Streamlining planning and marking
Hinds said that reducing the huge volumes of data currently being gathered by schools will be a key focus within the strategy, and teachers will be offered help when it comes to lesson planning. Model programmes for key stages 2 and 3 history, geography and science will be the first to be rolled out.
Of particular concern is the teacher shortage within secondary schools; pupil numbers are predicted to increase by almost 20% over the next 10 years, though over 10% of secondary school teachers quit the profession last year, as revealed in eTeach’s own annual landscape report. The government has also failed to hit its recruitment targets for secondary teacher trainees for five consecutive years.
Hinds stressed that he wants to ensure more flexible working practices such as job sharing are thought about through the entire system. “If people [are] talking about their careers and whether they are able to stay, or when maternity comes along, it’s really important that everyone is doing as much as they can to facilitate flexibility.”
Other areas of the strategy will focus on streamlining the recruitment process, though the key focus for improving retention will be on limiting the workload burden that has been a constant complaint among teachers.
Job sharing in schools comes with its own challenges which schools need to be open minded about overcoming.
Transforming support for early career teachers
By September 2021, £130 million will support the roll-out of the new Early Career Framework (ECF) meaning that new teachers will be entitled to clearly defined professional support and time off the timetable to access that support.
The Framework is designed to support teachers in their first two years and identifies 5 core areas:
- Behaviour management
- Professional behaviours
A pilot programme for the Early Career Framework will start in the North East, Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester from September 2020.
The strategy also includes provision for “incentives for new teachers by introducing phased bursaries – with staggered retention payments to encourage good people to remain in the profession, as well as to join.”
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