Teachers in the largest academy trusts are promoted on average three years earlier than their peers in LA-maintained schools, but they’re also more likely to quit the profession, new research has found.
A study by the Ambition Institute and the Education Policy Institute found that teachers in so-called “system leader” academy trusts, those with 12,000 or more pupils, gained promotion to senior leadership at an average age of 35, while those in LA schools had to wait until they were 38.
But although the largest trusts employ “high proportions of new entrants to the profession”, they also have the highest rate of teacher drop-out, a finding which has prompted calls for the academies system to better look after its staff to address turnover.
The research found that the proportion of classroom teachers in place in 2015 who had left the state-funded education sector by 2016 was 18.7 per cent in system leader trusts and 16.1 per cent in “national trusts” of 5,000 to 12,000 pupils, but just 14.7 per cent in “established trusts”, those with 1,200 to 5,000 teachers and 14.6 per cent in LA-maintained schools.
Melanie Renowden, Ambition’s interim chief executive, said improving teaching and school leadership is “the best way to make sure every pupil gets a great education”.
“Every governing board, CEO and headteacher needs to prioritise taking care of their teachers and leaders. The evidence on exit rates shows that we cannot afford not to do so.”
The report recommended that trusts support upward progression by offering promotion opportunities across their schools, and develop specialist expertise by moving staff to roles at the same level in other schools.
Trusts should also prioritise their working culture, supporting schools which allow teachers to focus on teaching and learning by reducing workload, and create an “attractive development offer” by asking for feedback from staff on the support they want, the report said.
Barriers to development should also be reduced, the report recommended. To this, trusts can “minimise the direct and indirect costs of development to staff to make it more accessible”. Chains should also manage talent by matching “talented staff to areas of strategic need across the trust”.
Jon Andrews, the EPI’s deputy head of research, said it was “clear that multi-academy trusts have an important role to play in developing teachers from the beginning of their careers”.
“This research confirms that larger trusts are well placed to do this, with these groups more likely to take on new entrants to the profession, and their teachers and leaders more likely to receive a promotion. However, we also find that academies are seeing higher workforce turnover rates.
“The favourable structure of multi-academy trusts means that there are opportunities for them to drive improvements in the retention and progression of teachers. Trusts should now look to capitalise on this potential, and contribute positively to workforce outcomes in the sector as a whole”.