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Opinion11th December 2015

Education research update, 10 December 2015

December 3 – December 10


Teacher recruitment and retention

DateDecember 2015
SummaryThe National Foundation for Educational Research have published some research on teacher supply called Should I Stay or Should I Go? NFER Analysis of Teachers Joining and Leaving the Profession. Their research is based on actual numbers of teachers leaving the profession, not stated intentions, which means it offers a different picture to other recent surveys. The report shows that over the last few years, around 10% of teachers have left the profession each year, but slightly larger numbers have joined. However, the number of trainees has been declining over time, and secondary schools in particular need more teachers to deal with an upcoming increase in pupil numbers. And the number of teachers leaving full-time teaching in 2014 is at a ten-year high of 9.2 per cent, 2.7 percentage points higher than it was in 2010. Of those teachers who do leave the profession, over half stay in education. They do not leave for higher paid jobs: on average their subsequent jobs pay 10% less. However, this is in the short term: it may well be that in the longer term their pay is comparable or greater than what they would have got in schools.
AnalysisSome of the data used in this paper is drawn from the NfER’s Teacher Voice survey. One of the questions in this survey is ‘Are you considering leaving teaching in the next academic year?’, to which 20% of respondents said yes. This is a higher figure than the percentage who do leave (10%) but it is a much lower figure than some recent other surveys which have got a lot of headlines. For example, a recent YouGov survey asked ‘Have you considered leaving teaching in the last 6 months?’, to which 59% said yes. The paper also contains a discussion of the impact of the wider economy on teacher recruitment, referencing a paper from the US which found that teachers who entered the profession during a recession were more effective than those who joined during better economic times.

The most recent statistics on numbers joining teacher training can be found here.


Research on non-cognitive skills

Date8 December 2015
SummaryA US organisation, Transforming Education, have published a review of the research on non-cognitive skills. Their term for such skills is MESH: Mindsets, Essential Skills and Habits, and they include skills such as self-control, collaboration, persistence, and ability to collaborate. This review reaches 9 conclusions about their importance. Broadly speaking, these skills are predictors of academic and career success, and also of wellbeing and happiness. The paper discusses some of the most famous research in this field, including Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman’s finding that ‘Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents’, Walter Mischel’s marshmallow test, and James Heckman’s research into how to develop non-cognitive skills in young children.
AnalysisThe report is summarised by Dan Willingham here. He is broadly positive about its conclusions, although he is more cautious than the authors about their third claim: that ‘fostering non-cognitive skills as early as preschool has both immediate and long-term impact.’ Willingham has an article about how teachers can help improve students’ self-control here.