Education Endowment Foundation:Financial incentives and reducing workload could help teacher recruitment and retention, according to evidence

Financial incentives and reducing workload could help teacher recruitment and retention, according to evidence


Financial incentives could be an effective way to support teacher recruitment, particularly in schools with high levels of socio-economic disadvantage, according to a new exploratory evidence review published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today. 

Press Release •3 minutes •

The review, by a team of researchers from IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, explores the global evidence base on recruitment and retention strategies, to find out which areas have the most potential to explore in future research.

According to the review, offering financial incentives – such as higher salaries and performance and recruitment bonuses – could be effective for attracting teachers to roles in challenging schools.

One study, conducted in Chile, explored the effects of awarding greater bonuses to teachers working in disadvantaged schools. Another, which took place in England, interviewed long-serving teachers working in challenging circumstances about their experiences to understand why they might have stayed in post.

The review shows that incentives have been used with different levels of success across different countries, but that financial rewards given directly to teachers – rather than allocated to their school of employment – show particular promise.

The review also found that strategies to reduce workload and improve working conditions were associated with improved retention. Heavier workloads were consistently associated with higher staff turnover, with factors such as working hours and leave entitlement strongly influencing teachers’ decision making.

Access to professional development, induction support and effective school leadership also show potential in supporting recruitment and retention, according to the review.

High-quality teaching is one of the most powerful levers for improving outcomes for children and young people, particularly for socio-economically disadvantaged pupils who stand to benefit the most. Yet attracting and retaining teachers, particularly in schools serving a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils, is one of the biggest challenges our education system faces.

Recent research shows that many schools in England are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. Applications for initial teacher training have fallen by a fifth compared to their pre-Covid levels, while schools are posting 93% more vacancies than before the pandemic.

Today’s report draws predominantly on international research as very few studies have taken place in English contexts. The EEF aims to supercharge the evidence base in this area through a multi-year research agenda focused on strategies for improving recruitment and retention.

They’ve recently commissioned a range of new evidence reviews, each of which will focus on specific practices which show promise in supporting teacher recruitment and retention in English schools, including school leadership, flexible working, and workload management. One of the reviews commissioned will look at recruitment and retention practices used specifically by schools serving disadvantaged communities.

These reviews will explore the evidence base and current practice using a range of methods, including analysing teacher job descriptions and school policies as well as gathering perspectives from teachers and leaders using surveys and interviews.

Professor Becky Francis CBE, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

Dr Becky Taylor, Principal Research Fellow at UCL’s Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research, and lead author of the review, said: