From education to employment

Happy teachers, happy kids: school leaders turn to employee engagement practices to help tackle teacher recruitment crisis

teacher writing on board

Employee Engagement data could be key to tackling the teacher retention crisis currently rocking the sector, according to a new paper from Professor John Jerrim and education data specialists TEP (part of the ImpactEd Group).

Findings from a pilot programme of ‘The Engagement Platform’ (TEP), which was built by former teachers and academics, have suggested that ensuring teachers feel invested in their leadership team’s strategy is crucial to staff retention, even more so than other factors like workload, pay, and the quality of their relationships with their colleagues.

The 18-month pilot – which included more than 100 schools and canvassed over 7,000 teachers through an intuitive survey platform – comes amid a recruitment and retention crisis that saw more than 40,000 teachers leave the profession in 2022 alone.

TEP has used the findings of its pilot to test, iterate and launch a digital service to help schools collect employee engagement data easily, receive provide instant timely feedback for leaders and access to benchmarks, resources, and case studies to support action planning. Officially launched today (Wednesday 11th October), the TEP platform data will allow multi-academy trusts and schools to understand their teams, and build sustainable working cultures.

TEP uses a standardised question set and scoring methodology that recognises the nuance in staff responses to accurately interpret staff engagement and the drivers that sit behind it; thereby giving staff the opportunity to clearly express their motivations, and school leaders the ability to put in place tangible actions in response.

Prof. John Jerrim’s report, using the TEP pilot data, demonstrates how leaders can use a strong strategic vision and good management practices to increase intellectual and emotional buy-in from teachers, strengthening their staff’s organisational commitment and reducing attrition rates.

The pilot data demonstrates there is best practice to be found and shared across the sector. For example, whilst Teacher Workload generally scored the lowest across TEP engagement drivers nationally – there were schools significantly beating the benchmarks. TEP is sharing best practice case studies from these schools with the TEP community to provide data-backed initiatives to support their leaders desperately looking for solutions.

Going forward, the pilot will be expanded to schools across the country, with TEP data providing actionable insights for school leaders, allowing them to put their time and energy where it will have the greatest impact for their team. . The service will use robust data and alongside school level case studies to build sustainable working environments for teachers and staff, helping schools across the country to meet the demand for retained teachers, and ensuring teaching is a highly desirable long term career choice.

Schools and trusts interested in hearing more on this topic can join a free, online webinar on Wednesday 11th October, taking place between 16:00 and 17:15.

Stephanie Hamilton, TEP Director, said:

“Leaders are facing unprecedented pressures in recruitment and retention. There is no silver bullet, but we set up TEP to equip schools with meaningful data to understand what is driving employee engagement in their classrooms, schools and Trusts. This helps leaders to put their time and energy where it will have the most impact for their teams and ultimately, students. Teachers are the most important factor in achieving excellent outcomes for pupils. If teachers feel well supported and are set up for success, improved pupil outcomes will follow – Happy teachers, Happy kids.”

Alison Tones, Headteacher at Rufford Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham, said:

“We’ve had a great experience partnering with TEP. Throughout the pilot it’s been simple to use and easy to engage our staff with. We really appreciate the thoughtful and pragmatic approach, rooted in research and the genuine desire to build the service shaped around the needs of school leaders like me. TEP data is now a key part of our decision-making process as we strive to build an outstanding working environment for our teachers and school staff.”

Sophie Blewitt, Assistant Head Professional Development at Sherborne Girls in Dorset, said:

“We are using The Engagement Platform to more fully understand what motivates our staff and to establish their feelings regarding working in our school. This data helps us focus our attention on specific areas of school life to enhance the staff (both teaching and non-teaching) experience, which is of great importance now given the recruitment and retention challenges affecting schools.  The data collection provided to us in June has been invaluable to us in this regard.”

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