MATs can offer unique career paths to boost teacher retention

Untitled design 35 | MATs can offer unique career paths to boost teacher retention
By Toby Lester | 18th October 2019 | 8 min read

Schools are turning to ever-more innovative approaches to teacher retention. As the number of NQTs and even experienced teachers shrinks in the face of mounting pupil intake, it’s more important than ever to hold on to your best teaching talent.

To that end, new teacher qualifications are being introduced with the hope of promoting teacher career progression – a strategy which could keep teachers in the classroom for longer. Developed by a panel of experts, these qualifications will focus on progression in non-leadership roles. This forms part of Nick Gibb’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy.

“Our ambition is for teachers to be able to do so without having to pursue traditional leadership routes, instead expanding their expertise in vital areas such as curriculum or behaviour management.” – Nick Gibb

This could go some way to improving overall teacher retention. In fact, a government-funded qualitative investigation into teacher retention found evidence that the availability of progression opportunities is a contributing factor towards teacher retention.

However, this is a rather one-dimensional approach to the issue of teacher career progression, and indeed the issue of teacher retention. It also neglects to put teachers and their personal choices at the heart of these qualifications; in fact, teaching unions have objected to these new qualifications on the grounds that senior teachers haven’t been consulted.

A better approach is available to multi-academy trusts: to offer their own unique paths to career progression that sit outside the traditional system.

Subject specialism: a unique career path

Trusts may be able to support teacher progression independently of government input by offering their own career progression paths. One route to teacher progression could be the fostering of specialist expertise.

For example, teachers whose knowledge excels in their chosen subject or who are exceptional at certain pedagogical aspects could serve as mentors for the trust, advising teachers across several schools and even contributing to schemes of work. This has the additional knock-on effect of making other teachers’ lives easier, making it more likely that they stay on.

Succession planning

Thanks to their size and excellent pre-existing network of locations and career opportunities, MATs can offer unique upwards teacher progression that traditional schools cannot. Unlike traditional schools, MATs can even offer succession planning to exceptional teachers and leaders thanks to the wide scope for secondment and placement across the trust.

This also means that your leadership teams can be packed with teachers who understand and work to your MAT and school values. This understanding can be as valuable as overall career expertise.

Leveraging data trends

One of the greatest benefits of academisation is the freedom this affords schools when choosing their HR tools. Because MATs are free to leverage their spending power to obtain powerful data analysis software, they can take a proactive approach to careers counselling not afforded to maintained schools.

For example, trusts can use HR software to identify teachers who haven’t progressed and offer the appropriate training they may need to break through their career barriers. We explore the role of HR software in teacher retention in greater depth in our latest insight paper.

Bonus: Teacher retention insight paper

Our new insight paper is available to download now for free. With expert insight and advice to combat the national teacher shortage, the topics covered in the paper are a must-have for all growing multi-academy trusts.

Download your free copy of Modern approaches to teacher retention: breaking the vicious circle of recruitment and resignation.