Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Talking Point

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Talking Point

Article excerpt

leaving so soon: exit interviews

Making a staff member who is leaving sit in a formal setting and tell a line manager exactly why is not ubiquitous in schools, but it is fairly common.

In the business world they call it an "exit interview". The employee has announced that they are leaving. Goodbyes have been tearfully said and presents received. Then they are led to a dark room where they are quizzed on their reasons for abandoning the company (in not so blunt terms, but you get the picture).

Exit interviews can glean useful information to help employers address issues such as high staff turnover, equal opportunities and effectiveness of recruitment. But how best should you go about them? We asked three headteachers for their views.

Susan Cousin, principal, Yewlands Academy, Sheffield

We introduced exit interviews last year but have never used that label. They are quite informal. I do them and I find them invaluable; I sometimes change people's minds.

Before introducing our Energy Index (we start every year with a test on the school climate, after which we put in place the necessary strategies to keep staff motivated), people were quite emotional in leaving interviews because no one had spoken to them before that point. By speaking to staff before they decide to leave, you can say: "I can fix this, you don't have to leave." Or you can at least improve things for the next person - sometimes it's right that people move on.

It's important not to wait until staff leave to find out how they feel, and to keep them highly motivated so they don't leave. …

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