Teach First ambassador Musibau Kaffo

Invest in leadership to boost teacher retention

Invest in leadership to boost teacher retention

Amidst a shortage of school leaders, over half of classroom teachers want to make a step up to a senior role, yet most teachers spend just a few hours each year developing the skills needed.

Nine out of ten teachers say better development opportunities could increase their likelihood of remaining at their school.

Teach First and Schools Minister launch new initiative to support school leadership teams.

A new report, Leading Together: Why Supporting School Leadership Matters, from education charity Teach First shows that investing in leadership training could help improve teacher retention.


The report coincides with the launch of the Teach First initiative Leading Together. Funded initially by the Department for Education, the programme will support schools to improve the quality of their leadership.


Recent research has shown that schools are experiencing a shortage of up to 3,000 leaders1 with demand set to rise as pupils numbers increase. Teach First’s report highlights that there is no shortage of teachers wanting to make the step up, but they often lack access to the training they need.


A new ComRes poll for the report finds that half (49%) of classroom teachers said they would be interested in taking up a leadership position in the future. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of middle leaders said they would be interested in taking on a more senior position.2


But the report highlights that opportunities available to develop and step up to senior roles do not match the demand. Most teachers (54%) said they spent no more than a few hours developing the skills needed last year. This includes 40% of teachers who said they spent no time at all away from their usual work developing their leadership skills in the last year. A further 14% of teachers said they spent only ‘up to a few hours’. 


Nine out of ten (88%) teachers said their school offering excellent leadership development opportunities would have at least some impact on their likelihood of remaining at the school, with a third of teachers (34%) saying it would have a ‘great impact’. 


Crucially, this figure was even higher for teachers thinking about leaving the profession. Of those teachers who said they were considering leaving within the next year, 41% said excellent leadership development opportunities would have a great impact on their likelihood of remaining at their school.


Ofsted data shows that schools with strong leadership are up to ten times more likely to improve overall at their next inspection. Yet Teach First’s latest report also finds that schools in the poorest areas three times more likely to be rated as 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' for effective leadership.


Today Teach First launched the two-year Leading Together programme to support schools in areas of greatest need to build strong leadership teams. The programme is initially funded by the Department for Education's Teaching & Leadership Innovation Fund, meaning Teach First is able to offer the programme at no cost to schools. Schools taking part in the scheme will be partnered with an experienced senior school leader and will have access to training, coaching and networking support.


Schools Minister Nick Gibb visited All Saints Catholic College in Tameside – among the first schools to sign-up to the programme – to officially launch the initiative. The Minister joined Russell Hobby, chief executive of Teach First, and Linda Emmett, Headteacher of All Saints Catholic College, to meet staff and pupils and the school.


Russell Hobby, Chief Executive of Teach First, said:


“All parents want their children to have a great education, but too often children in low-income areas miss out. There are no great schools without strong school leadership teams, so we need to do more to nurture school leaders.


“It is worrying that teachers are telling us they want to stay and progress in their school, but they lack the support they need to do so. We often talk of teacher recruitment challenges, but it’s time to get serious about keeping great teachers in the profession.


“That’s why I’m delighted that with generous support from Department for Education we’re launching Leading Together – a programme to support school leadership teams.”


Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, said:


“There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – but we want to build on this and help schools attract and keep the best and brightest people working in our schools.


“Last week the Education Secretary announced a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers, working with the unions and professional bodies, and we’ve been consulting on how to improve development opportunities for teachers, whether they decide to move into a leadership role or want to continue teaching in the classroom.


“This programme from Teach First is one of thousands of new training opportunities that we have created through our £75million Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund, supporting schools in the areas of greatest need to help nurture the leaders of tomorrow.”

- Ends – 


For interview requests, media enquiries or case study requests, contact the Teach First media team via press@teachfirst.org.uk or 0203 841 8483 (including outside office hours) 


Notes to editors 

1.    The School Leadership Challenge: 2022, Ambition School Leadership and Teaching First (2016) 
2.    ComRes interviewed 800 teachers in Great Britain online between 6th and 23rd February 2018. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB teachers by age, gender and region.


About Teach First


Teach First was founded as a charity in 2002. Since then, with the generous backing of countless supporters, we have been challenging the deep-rooted reality that a child’s socio-economic background is the biggest determining factor in their chances of fulfilling their potential.


We believe that disadvantage should never determine destiny. We work towards this by:


  • Finding and developing talented people to teach in schools where the need is greatest.

  • Developing programmes for young people living in low-income communities to help them reach their full potential beyond school.

  • Supporting schools to access innovations and partnerships that accelerate their pupils’ progress.

  • Providing professional development opportunities to teachers, leaders and schools so they can increase their impact on pupils.

  • Building a movement of teachers, school leaders, social entrepreneurs, policymakers and business people committed to ending education inequality across all areas of society.


Since 2003, Teach First has recruited, trained and placed 11,000 teachers in schools serving low-income communities, reaching over one million young people. We currently partner with hundreds of schools across all regions of England and Wales

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