Education Endowment Foundation:Three takeaways from the evidence on improving teacher recruitment and retention

Three takeaways from the evidence on improving teacher recruitment and retention


Our submission to the Education Select Committee inquiry

Press Release •1 minute •

A new inquiry by the Education Select Committee is investigating the current state of teacher recruitment and retention, the main factors causing difficulties, and the impact on students.

In response to their call for evidence, we put together a submission based on what we know from the evidence base. Here are three key takeaways:

The teacher recruitment and retention crisis has – and will have – implications for education equity.

  • Access to high-quality teaching is the most powerful lever we have for improving education outcomes, particularly for pupils from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • But the data is clear that schools with higher levels of disadvantaged pupils face the biggest recruitment and retention challenges. These schools, on average, have higher levels of staff turnover, as well as more unfilled vacancies and fewer subject-specialist teachers.

Financial incentives can be a good way of attracting teachers to the profession and encouraging them to teach in challenging schools.

  • To work, financial incentives need to be big enough to compensate for the challenges of working in schools with higher levels of need, or to compensate for the salary that teachers would receive if they’d been in a comparable profession.
  • Financial incentives are more effective for recruitment than retention. Research suggests that teachers only stay while the incentive is available, so they may only offer a short-term fix for a chronic problem.

Professional development is crucial for supporting pupil outcomes, but we know less about whether it encourages teachers to stay in the profession.

  • Some studies in England have found that high-quality subject specific professional development may be beneficial for retaining teachers.
  • Other evidence suggests a link between teachers’ reported autonomy over their professional development and their intention to stay in teaching.

Our flagship research theme for 2023 is on supporting the recruitment and retention of teachers to schools with high levels of disadvantaged pupils. Over the course of the year, we’ll fund a range of research to add to the evidence base of what we know about improving recruitment and retention.

Read our full submission.