Retain and ‘grow’ your teachers; nurture them through your induction programme
Joanna Lambert – Assistant Head teacher, Professional Coordinating Mentor, Park High School, Stanmore
Oaks from little acorns grow
This thought –piece seeks to share with those interested in the growth of newly qualified teachers my research over 10 years with the 110 trainees who have passed through my care as a Professional Coordinating Mentor in a London Secondary School. I choose the acorn analogy in the title of this piece as it is the symbol of our school, Park High School. A large oak sits in the park next to our site. Its acorns are the symbol of potential growth and the tree represents our community of learning. In my role, as well as watching the students grow under the care of our teachers, I watch the growth of our newly qualified teachers and watch them develop gradually into confident and competent teachers, worthy of the promotions they receive.
The aim of this research was to monitor the growth of all newly qualified teachers in a ten- year longitudinal study and to analyse the profile of the school against the national picture of teacher retention and wastage. It was at the Westminster Forum in 2011 when I became interested in the mapping of our newly qualified teachers’ success. I was interested in the notion that many teachers in the UK were leaving the profession in the third year after qualifying. The government had mapped teacher retention and wastage over the first 5 years of a teachers’ career and was concerned about the findings. I became interested not only in ways to encourage longevity in teaching but also in collecting data, to have a firm understanding of the picture in our school over time and to analyse our induction provision. I began the task of collating the data in a grid back-dating it to 2008.
The study's methodology
The data collected for this longitudinal study took the form of the collation of successes and failures of newly-qualified teachers through an analysis of promotions; retention and leavers from the profession. I collected this data in respect of Park High School and compared it with UK-wide statistics and the world as a whole.
This information was collated year on year on a grid showing the names of those in each year’s cohort and was then colour coded to show different types of promotion within Park High and alternative destinations. A percentage grid was created to show the results and finally questionnaires were completed by 17 staff still working at Park to reveal the reasons for their successes and longevity at the school.
Park High shows a glowing picture, in comparison to the 2011-2012 national data, which suggests that a third of all newly qualified teachers leave the profession,
Nos of NQTs
Overall UK retention
UK other schools retention
PH Teacher Wastage %
National Wastage After 5yrs
Promotion at PH in 5 years
Promotion at PH beyond 5yrs
Figure 1: 10 YEAR Retention / Wastage/ Promotion chart for Park High (PH) School NQTS from 2008 – 2013
(Note: 2013 trainees are the last to be included in this study as they were monitored for 5 years)
Of all teachers trained at our school, 83% were still teaching in UK schools after 5 years as opposed to 70% of those trained across all schools in the UK. (UK retention) 46% of NQTs trained with us were still teaching at Park 5 years later. 30 % left teaching altogether nationally, whereas at Park High only 11% left to pursue their own businesses. More recent data suggests that 1:10 teachers are leaving the state sector nationally (NUT, 2018).
It was important to the study to find out why the programme and provision we offer to our newly qualified teachers gained such success.
Evidence from the qualitative data from NQT questionnaires posing the following question, “What has led to your successes and longevity at Park High?” offered the following themes:
The first theme which arose was school ethos. Many NQTs felt the school to have a family ethos which was evidenced through strong relationships between staff, students and parents. This ethos was supported by an open door approach and a commitment to appreciating both staff and student effort. The school was felt to have a focus on staff well-being and personal development.
The second theme was pedagogical support and continuing professional development. Not only did the NQTs feel that they were supported by excellent practitioners but were frequently encouraged to develop their pedagogy by regular continuing professional development that not only improved their professionalism but gave them increased confidence to experiment and initiate developments within their departments and indeed across the school. In specific areas, such as behaviour management and the understanding of special needs they felt supported to develop their effectiveness.
The third theme focused upon the effective support of senior leaders who were not only genuinely interested in helping with the development of the NQTS skills but were also approachable, reasonable and fair in their expectations. The Head teacher and Professional Coordinating Mentor gave close individual support and encouragement to ensure the development of their trainees.
The final theme concerned the mentoring programme for the NQTS which gave regular opportunities to develop as a professional by offering reflection and mentoring by highly trained mentors. Our Induction Programme includes a three weekly induction session for all new staff on a variety of topics; a Wednesday morning 20 minute ‘shout out’ taken by professionals within the school; weekly hour sessions with the Professional Coordinating Mentor; frequent observations and follow up mentoring sessions with trained mentors. Additional training is provided within subject departments, by the special educational needs and English as a second language teams.
Our success seems to come from providing a safe environment in which our new teachers can experiment, learn and grow.
The Chair of Governors described this study as a legacy as I move on from my current position to retirement. In his thought –piece on the ‘Olympic legacy’ in a previous issue of LINK Costas (2015) states that “a legacy in the most literal sense is what someone or something leaves behind after they have moved on” and for a “legacy to be of benefit to any inheritor, the individual or groups of individuals targeted to gain from the legacy have to be included and active within the whole process from start to finish.”
So will my legacy be of benefit to the inheritors? How will it have an impact on the lives of the teachers of Park High in the future?
In the coming academic year the impact will be seen in the following: the induction programme will continue and is to be refined for the needs of the new teachers; there will be continued and developing input from teachers across the school offering their expertise in the induction sessions; the Professional Coordinating Mentor will oversee the induction programme, offer training to the mentors and have a weekly hour meeting with the newly qualified teachers to offer information, advice and guidance; mentors will continue to observe lessons and offer mentoring conversations regularly; existing newly qualified teachers will take on the role of mentoring and the data will continue to be added to the 10 year grid.
In the coming years all of the above will occur with our newly qualified teachers taking more responsibility for each new year of new teachers; thus the system should become sustainable. The teachers targeted to gain have indeed been included and active in the whole process.
Time will tell, but I am sure that the acorns will continue to thrive.
Costas, B. (2015) ‘Voices of children aged 10 and 11 revisited’ in LINK, vol.1, issue 2. Available at: http://www.herts.ac.uk/link/volume-1,-issue-2/voices-of-children-aged-10-and-11-revisited (Accessed: 25.7.18).
Department for Education (2016) School workforce in England: November 2016, Table 7a. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2016 (Accessed: 25.7.18).
National Union of Teachers (2018) Edufact - ‘Teacher Recruitment and Retention’. Available at: https://www.teachers.org.uk/edufacts/teacher-recruitment-and-retention (Accessed: 25.7.18).