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New school workforce data shows improved retention rates for teachers

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NAHT comments on new school workforce data showing improved retention rates for teachers 

Commenting as the government’s recently release schools workforce data shows improved retention rates for school staff over the last year,

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The improved retention rates shown in these new figures are due to school staffs’ incredible dedication and commitment to children during what has been an extremely difficult year. But the government must not take it as any cause for complacency.

“Even before the pandemic it was widely acknowledged that teachers and school leaders’ working hours had reached unsustainable levels. During the pandemic, their working week has got longer still.

“A recent NAHT survey found that the top words school leaders would use to describe their experiences over the last year are ‘challenging, exhausting and stressful’. Nearly half (47%) were considering leaving the profession sooner than originally planned.

“The government’s only response has been to announce yet another pay freeze which will again cut salaries in real terms.

“Last year was not a normal year and recruitment was largely on hold, so we have yet to see the full impact of the government’s neglect.

“To meet the challenge of recovery post-Covid we need great teachers and leaders in all schools for all children. The government has said that no child should be left behind. Investing in the teaching profession and creating the conditions for an attractive life-long career in education is the best way to keep that promise.”

Commenting on the Government’s publication of census data on the school workforce in England, 

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The school workforce data must be seen in the context of the severe recruitment and retention problems that have developed over the past decade. In the years leading up to the pandemic recruitment targets were missed and the number of teachers leaving the profession increased significantly. Too few teachers were recruited and retained to match pupil number increases, resulting in higher workload and pupil/teacher ratios. 

“Government policy directly contributed to the teacher recruitment and retention problems of the previous decade and is set to make the existing problems worse. Pay freezes, pay caps, the imposition of unfair and demoralising performance-related pay, and ever-increasing workload have reduced the attractiveness of teaching compared to other graduate professions. The Government’s plans to freeze teacher pay again, with inflation rising and pay improving in other professions, will exacerbate these problems. 

“The underlying causes of the severe and persistent teacher recruitment and retention problems remain. Any improvements due to the pandemic will be temporary in nature. The full impact of the pandemic on teacher stress, health and retention has yet to be seen. Until the Government reverses course, to significantly improve teacher pay and conditions instead of planning more attacks on teacher pay, we will continue to struggle to attract and keep the teachers we need to deliver high quality education and recovery from the pandemic.” 

Single reference for all school workforce statistics based on staff working in publicly funded schools in England.


School workforce in England: November 2020


This publication sets out the:

  • numbers of, and full time equivalent (FTE) numbers of teachers and support staff in service
  • number of entrants to, and leavers from, teaching
  • teacher retention
  • teacher retirements
  • characteristics of teachers and support staff, including gender, age and ethnic group
  • teachers’ pay
  • teachers’ qualifications
  • curriculum taught by secondary school teachers
  • teacher vacancies
  • teacher sickness absence
  • pupil-to-teacher ratios

The release includes information at national, regional and local authority levels, and associated data files at school level.

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