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More Than Money: England’s Approach to Attracting and Keeping Teachers

To be attractive, the teaching profession needs to take into account how teachers are supported, engaged in professional learning, and given opportunities for advancement.

Note: This story previously listed recruitment and retention strategies as those of the United Kingdom. The strategies discussed below are specific to England. It has been updated to reflect this correction.

As shortages of teachers affect school districts across the U.S. and around the world, many systems are discussing possible raises and other financial incentives. While pay is a key issue in many places, systems around the globe understand recruiting and retaining strong, diverse teachers requires more than competitive pay. To be attractive, the teaching profession needs to take into account how teachers are supported, engaged in professional learning, and given opportunities for advancement.

England has its own struggles with recruitment. But it has a strategy in place to anticipate these challenges. England released a teacher retention and recruitment strategy in 2019 that recognizes the breadth of the issue. Its goals are to:

  1. help leaders establish supportive school cultures;
  2. transform support for early career teachers;
  3. build a career that remains attractive to teachers as their jobs and lives develop; and
  4. removing administrative barriers for great candidates to become teachers. 

While the strategy does include financial incentives like loan forgiveness and bonuses for teacher candidates training to teach in-demand subjects or in high-need districts, these are only one component of a multi-pronged approach. Key among the provisions is the creation of an early career framework that requires two years of structured supports, including mentoring, for new teachers; a set of new specialist qualifications that give teachers opportunities to advance in the profession without leaving the classroom; measures to reduce teacher workload; and tools to help teachers “job share” so they can organize their work in different ways. Taken together, these provisions aim to create a professional culture where teachers can learn, grow, and thrive. 

The strategies in England have been piloted over the past two years and are just beginning to be fully implemented this year. For more on how other countries are developing their teachers, see NCEE’s Empowered Educators study and top-performing country profiles.