Retention rates for school leaders in England are falling, according to DfE data | Education

The number of school leaders under the age of 50 who quit their jobs within five years of being appointed has risen, according to yet-to-be-released government data revealed by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

More than one in three secondary school heads in England and one in four primary school heads left at some point in the five years following their appointment in 2015, according to official statistics from the Department for Education ( DfE).

Almost half of middle leaders in both phases of education have left over the same period, amid fears the retention of the most experienced staff at schools in England is in serious decline.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which made the FoI request after the government failed to release updated figures, warned the leadership offer for schools in England was ” on the brink” and accused the DfE of failing to act on the crisis.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT General Secretary, said: “Salaries for school leaders have been reduced by 15% in real terms since 2010, and this, combined with high-stakes responsibility, overwhelming workloads, to long hours and insufficient school funding, pushes leaders into the work they love.

The worrying trend was revealed in annual data collected by the DfE which details the number of headteachers, assistant and deputy heads, and middle managers, aged under 50 and new to the job, who are leaving their employment within five years of taking office. role.

The new figures show that five-year retention rates have deteriorated across all categories of school leaders since the data was last released in 2018. Comparing 2011-16 to 2015-20, the proportion of school leaders who left within five years of their appointment went from 22% to 25%, while among secondary heads it went from 35% to 37%.

“The data we received confirms our fears that executive retention rates have declined further since 2015,” said NAHT senior policy adviser Ian Hartwright, who led the research. “That’s true, even taking into account two very disrupted recruiting years, where, due to the pandemic, there was far less movement than might have otherwise been anticipated.”

On Tuesday, NAHT will present oral evidence to the Teacher Review Body, the independent group that makes pay recommendations, including the new information on the number of headteachers leaving their jobs early.

“NAHT has been pressing the DfE, literally for years, to act on this crisis,” Whiteman said. “But the DfE remains in denial about the systemic issues plaguing the profession. We urgently need the government to work with us to establish a fair new deal on pay, workload and responsibility, to relieve the extraordinary pressures on the profession and make a career in education attractive and sustainable.

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A DfE spokesperson said: “The overall image of school leadership in England is positive – vacancy rates are low and the quality of leadership is high, but we recognize that school leaders have been facing challenges.

“That’s why we’re taking a wide range of action to support the profession, including investing £250million in training opportunities at all stages of a teacher’s career, as well as the government’s pay reforms giving teachers schools more flexibility to reward outstanding leaders.”

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