Polly Butterfield-Tracey and William Stow assess the Government’s new national strategy for teacher recruitment and retention and offer an insight into how the South East is facing these challenges.

This week, the Government launched a new strategy for the recruitment and retention of teachers, recognising that there are ongoing and significant challenges to ensuring that teachers are attracted to and able to stay in the profession.

Taking a refreshingly inclusive approach to policy design, the Secretary of State has brought together teaching unions, teacher training providers, schools and civil servants to produce a long-term strategy for the teaching workforce.

Key priorities for the plan include early career support, reduction in teacher workload and opportunities for flexible working, simplifying the process of applying to become a teacher, and creating a diverse range of options for teachers as their careers and lives develop.

While there are wider issues around teacher recruitment and retention this new strategy is a welcome commitment from the Government, but for it to be successful all stakeholders need to support it, recognising that the way we talk about teaching at every level matters a great deal.

To build a career offer that attracts potential teachers, as well as remaining attractive as careers and lives develop, we must work together to transform the way we promote and advocate teaching as a vibrant and rewarding profession.

The strategy specifically references a new initiative, led by Canterbury Christ Church University in collaboration with the University of Sussex, Kent and Medway Training, The Kemnal Academies trust, Teach Kent and Sussex, East Sussex Teacher Training Partnership.

The Confederation for the Education of South East Teachers, or CESET, aims to promote teaching as an attractive and rewarding career and boost regional recruitment into the profession. As a collaboration between universities, schools, local authorities and other bodies involved in education, it will be strongly placed to provide support for teacher recruitment and training across the south east and gives a unique opportunity to take a long-term approach to tackling this ongoing challenge. Key current activities include:

  • the completion of research with trainee teachers from all six partners, to establish key barriers to successful completion of application
  • providing ongoing applicant and trainee support with school experience and pre-application support which smooths the path to successful completion and good quality preparation for success in teaching
  • the completion of analysis of Initial Teacher Training cold spots across the region, driving our collective activity to where it is most needed and thus improve recruitment of teachers to these schools
  • improve consistency in mentor development, including via the piloting of specific support to improve mentors’ capacity and understanding of special educational needs and thus improve the quality of teaching of their trainees.

The key to the success of this ambitious strategy lies in two key things – firstly, a political will and a financial package from government to support it; and secondly, a genuine commitment to collaborative working to solve these long term issues. CESET as a regional collaboration can be a central part of the implementation of this strategy in the south east of England.

 

Polly Butterfield-Tracey is Project Director for CESET and William Stow is Head of the School of Teacher Education and Development.

For more information on CESET email Polly on pollyann.butterfield-tracey@canterbury.ac.uk .