Retention is priority to improve morale, headteachers warn

More focus is needed to improve retention rates among senior teachers, a leading union has warned in the wake of last week’s pay deal.

Following the 2.45% pay award to teachers last week, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which represents 30,000 school leaders, has urged the government to address retention issues, rather than recruitment, to improve morale.

Currently, 800 primary schools are being run by temporary heads, but the NAHT argued that pay levels were not the only reason for these vacancies.

“While there is difficulty in recruiting and retaining heads in primary schools, pay is not the only issue affecting morale,” general secretary Mick Brooks told Personnel Today. “The government needs to do more with retention heads are exposed to constant [media] attacks on school leadership. The challenge of running a school has never been greater and heads are too vulnerable to losing their jobs.”

Last week the National Union of Teachers (NUT) criticised the pay deal for being too low, claiming it would do nothing to attract the best talent.

However, last year’s advertising campaign to attract new teachers has been labelled a success by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Its figures show that 31,295 teachers were recruited nationwide – just five short of the government’s target.

The TDA acknowledged that a competitive salary was important to attract the best candidates, but stressed that teaching also attracted people because it offered job satisfaction and a stimulating workplace.

The Department for Children, Families and Schools said the overall vacancy rate for teachers had fallen in recent years, and insisted that the government had a “high-quality support programme” in place to improve morale.

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