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VIEWS & OPINION Teacher retention – what can be done to


stem the exodus? Comment by ROBYN JOHNSTONE, CEO, Education Placement Group


According to figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, applications for teacher training courses fell by one-third this year – plummeting from 19,330 in December 2016 to just 12,820 in 2017 – a drop that will have a significant impact on schools across the country which are already facing considerable challenges recruiting qualified staff. Staff retention rates are also falling with the


National Audit Office announcing in its September 2017 Retaining and Developing the Teaching Workforce report that more than 8% of the qualified workforce left the profession for reasons other than retirement in 2016. According to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report, published in January 2018, 67% of those surveyed cited workload as the barrier to teacher retention.


So what can be done? The Department for Education, it appears, has plans to increase spend on teacher retention


which I heartily welcome; however, funding must be significant if it is to adequately address the issues facing headteachers today. Professional support is also key and the


Chartered College of Teaching has gone some way in meeting this need with its Chartered Teacher programme, based on a framework of professional principles, to develop and recognise the expertise of teachers. This is supported by a range of professional development opportunities, helping teachers to develop their practice, further their career and gain recognition for their excellence. Within schools the creation or further


development of a strong and effective induction programme for newly qualified teachers and strategic professional development for all staff can do much to improve morale and retention. Support must be ongoing, not just when that member of staff hits an obstacle, so staff retain their passion for teaching and stay within the profession.


Flexible working conditions for teachers, such


as job sharing, is another option which can help attract teachers back into the profession and keep them in a career they love. A National Union of Teachers and YouGov


survey, published in October 2015, found that more than half of teachers were thinking of leaving the profession in the next two years, citing ‘volume of workload’ (61%) and ‘seeking better work-life balance’ (57%) as the two top issues causing them to consider this. Teachers in a job share can thrive with


improved work-life balance, a smaller workload and less pressure than their full-time peers. In turn, the students in their care receive great teaching with their teachers bringing two sets of skills and experiences to the role. If headteachers can support flexible working policies and develop a culture which encourages a love of teaching rather than one driven by fear of failure, league tables and Ofsted, they have a much better chance of recruiting and retaining staff.


Why young people should be given the opportunity to experience theatre


Comment by ALICE KING-FARLOW– Director of Learning at the National Theatre


We know that the creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy and vital to the lifeblood, identity and cultural output of our country. Despite this, there has been a 28% decrease in the number of children taking Arts GCSEs since 2010 and the introduction of the Ebacc, a combination of subjects that the Government believes is essential for young people to study at GCSE, does not include a single Arts subject. Combined with a squeeze on school budgets, there is a risk that subjects such as drama and art are sidelined in schools or even disappear entirely from the curriculum. In this climate it’s essential that arts organisations continue to offer opportunities for young people to experience the arts. At the National Theatre, we believe that


everyone should be able to access and experience theatre no matter where they are in the UK. Our annual Connections programme, now in its 23rd year, is at the heart of the National Theatre’s work for young people and is a celebration of youth theatre and new writing.


June 2018


With over 6,500 young people taking part this year, youth theatre companies and school groups from every corner of the UK have the opportunity to stage one of ten brand new plays written especially for them by some of the most exciting contemporary playwrights and then have the opportunity to perform in a professional venue. For most young people, taking part in


Connections will be their first experience of taking a play from the page to a professional stage, a challenging and exciting step-up from the classroom or drama studio. By working with 28 leading theatres across the UK who host Connections festivals and support each company along the way, every young person has the opportunity to take their production to a professional stage in their region. As well as performing, young people also take on a variety of backstage roles, including designing and operating lights and sound, designing costume and set or stage managing which all help to open their eyes to the huge variety of vital roles in the theatre industry, which they may not have


realised were available to them, or even in existence. Connections plays give participants the


opportunity to explore topical issues that are important to their lives today. Theatre offers a medium to explore different worldviews and experiences, to research and debate the themes of the plays, and to inhabit the perspectives of different characters. This year’s plays explore subjects ranging from identity to cultural differences, feminism and teenage sexuality and taking part develops valuable transferable skills: teamwork, communication and confidence. The National Theatre, our Connections


partners, and many other theatres and arts organisations right across the UK are committed to reaching as many young people as possible, not just to inspire the talented theatre-makers and creative workforce of tomorrow, but to open up theatre to everybody growing up in the UK. It’s work that’s at the heart of our mission - to produce work which is for everyone, diverse, collaborative and reflects that we are a truly national theatre.


www.education-today.co.uk 23


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