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Training and support edging out pay as schools battle to recruit and retain staff

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More staff training and greater curriculum support are set to edge out pay as the measures most commonly used by schools in their battle to improve the recruitment and retention of school staff, according to new research from Best Practice Network.

The survey of 742 leaders from schools across England shows that although pay is second only to workload reduction in efforts by schools to recruit and retain the staff they need, it will be overtaken in the next two years by other measures including improved curriculum support and enhanced CPD opportunities.

Changing working practices and processes to reduce workload is the most common measure, currently used by 77% of survey respondents, while paying staff differently from or above national pay scales was the second most common, used by 71%.

But when respondents were asked which recruitment and retention measures they were planning to take on over the next two years, pay is likely to be overtaken. When planned use is combined with current use, CPD will become the second most commonly used strategy, with 24% planning to introduce more CPD and staff training on top of the 63% which currently use the approach.

Changing working practices to cut workload, currently used by 77%, remains the top measure when combined with the 13% saying they are planning to do this, while 18% are planning greater curriculum support in addition to the 68% currently using the approach. Fewer respondents (10%) said they are planning pay changes, moving the measure from second to fourth place when current usage of 71% is taken into account.

Those surveyed ranked recruitment as the biggest current headache for schools, with almost half of respondents (49%) putting it as their top staffing difficulty.

The survey also revealed that schools struggle slightly more with recruitment in the North West and South West (84% and 80% of school leaders find recruiting staff most challenging), than in London (74%).

Retention was next in schools’ league table of concerns, with 29% rating it as their most challenging issue. Developing and managing staff were ranked third and fourth, cited as most challenging issues by 15% and 7% of respondents respectively.

Simon Little, managing director at Best Practice Network, said:

“While pay continues to be regarded as a key measure schools can use to improve recruitment and retention, this will become a more challenging lever to deploy as school budgets get tighter. This explains the increasing role strategies such as enhanced CPD, staff wellbeing and curriculum support are likely to play in the future for school leaders.”

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