Recruiting and Retaining Teachers: Understanding Why Teachers Teach

By Anne D. Cockburn; Terry Haydn | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

So what can schools do?

Context: the art of the possible

Headteachers have to play 'the hand they are dealt' in terms of the overall education system they work in and the teachers that are either in their school or 'on the market'. But they do have a degree of control over some of the factors which have emerged as having an influence on the extent to which teachers enjoy their work. This chapter looks at recent findings about how schools can make their systems for recruiting good teachers as effective as possible and at some of the general aspects of the climate of school life which are likely to have a positive effect on teacher retention.

Our own research into what young people want from a career and their views about teachers and teaching shows that many of their concerns and reservations about a life in teaching echo the concerns of trainee teachers, NQTs and more experienced teachers. There would appear to be a strong element of social transmission here (see pages 16-17); a lot of people come into some contact with someone who is a teacher. The quotations from teachers in this chapter are drawn from interviews with 84 teachers (48 primary, 36 secondary).

No number of glossy magazines (see for instance, Think Teaching!), advertising campaigns, or courses to lure back members of the 'PIT' (Pool of inactive teachers), will keep people in teaching if it is not, in reality, an enjoyable and fulfilling job. In a well-intentioned attempt to attract third-year undergraduates into teaching, a group of 'teacher advocates' recently visited the university and presented a picture of a life in teaching as one of unremitting joy. Even apart from the fact that they were all employed in the independent sector, the portrayal of teaching as an unproblematic idyll aroused suspicion and antipathy rather than enthusiasm. It is not just a question of pay, or having enough

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