Election 2024, Recruitment and retention

Retention tops teachers’ election policy priorities, polling suggests

Access to mental health services, getting more support staff and having 'fewer high-pressure exams' were other top priorities, Teacher Tapp's poll found

Access to mental health services, getting more support staff and having 'fewer high-pressure exams' were other top priorities, Teacher Tapp's poll found

Recruitment and retention
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Teachers and leaders see retention as their number one priority for reform as the general election looms, new polling suggests.

But access to mental health and other specialist services is top of the list for the most senior staff.

A poll of more than 8,000 staff by Teacher Tapp, on behalf of the National Education Union, found other key priorities included getting more support staff into classrooms and having “fewer high-pressure exams and assessments”.

Teacher Tapp produced a ranking using the comparative judgment method after asking teachers their preferred policies.

Among all respondents, improving teacher retention came top, followed by more access to specialist services such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) or speech and language therapy.

However, the priorities of primary and secondary leaders differed slightly, as did those of senior leaders and other school staff.

For example, primary teachers said access to specialist services was their top priority, followed by more support staff, while secondary teachers said improving retention was their highest priority, followed by access to specialist services.

For senior leaders, better access to services such as CAMHS was most important, followed by retention. For non-leaders, it was the other way around.

For all staff in all school types, the two policies of the 10 that ranked lowest were giving pupils greater choice over the subjects they studied and greater breadth in what they studied.

Daniel Kebede
Daniel Kebede

Daniel Kebede, the NEU’s general secretary, said teachers’ list of priorities “tell a sorry tale of 14 years of underfunding and the impact of national political decisions on the quality, range of experiences and depth of learning schools can offer”.

“A teacher recruitment and retention crisis left unaddressed, insufficient mental health support to meet need and school buildings falling apart are all top priorities for change.”

Teachers were “concerned about the impact of an ‘exam factory culture’ on young people and their motivation levels”. Schools also prioritised a greater focus on arts education, including music. 

… and Labour’s recruitment pledge liked most by public too

The teacher recruitment crisis has cut through to the wider public, new polling suggests, with Labour’s plan to recruit new teachers the top schools pledge.

And more than four in 10 people believe secondary schools have got worse since 2010, despite improved outcomes, prompting a warning from pollsters that post-Covid behaviour and attendance issues are swaying attitudes to education.

Nationally representative polling by consultancy firm Public First found the Labour pledge to hire 6,500 more teachers was top of peoples’ priority list for schools policies.

Last year, the government missed its teacher recruitment target by almost 14,000.

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