Hays UK blog


Five ways to retain top teaching talent

By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education

Every school setting has its shining stars with talented teachers respected by both students and fellow staff members. Therefore it’s encouraging that our What Workers Want Report found that almost half of education professionals surveyed (45%) expect to work for fewer than five schools during their career.

However, in an education system where it is becoming increasingly harder to hold onto top teacher talent, here are five strategies to help you retain your best teachers:  

1. Recognition

This might seem like an obvious action to suggest but a lot of teachers move on to different roles and schools because they feel they’re being overlooked and undervalued in their current capacity. You need to be able to identify and express your thoughts when your staff member has gone above and beyond. Ensure praise is always objective, and still gives room for improvement for different staff members or departments. Through recognising success and work you will create an environment employees want to stay in and build loyalty.

2. Rewards

A traditional way to ensuring your staff want to stay in your school is to reward them for their hard work and dedication. This doesn’t necessarily have to start in and end with giving your teachers a boost in pay either, as 10% fewer education professionals would actually move roles for a higher salary than the national average (66%).

Therefore make more of an impression and foster loyalty by tailoring your rewards based on your staff and what they would value most. For example, some schools have introduced ‘Free Friday Breakfast’ for staff just as a simple thank you each week for continuous hard work. Another unique reward is the newer concept of ‘Duvet Days’, where staff are rewarded by being given an extra day’s holiday to use in term-time.

3. Career Investment

Another common incidence where teachers start looking to move onto a new school setting or role, is when they feel they’re not achieving their full potential and want the opportunity to progress quicker - in fact two-fifths would turn down a job that offered no training or development. Build your staff loyalty and take pre-emptive preventive measures by structuring regular continuing professional development (CPD). This will have the dual effect of both, strengthening their commitment to the school, and giving them the tools to be a highly successful teacher for their students.

4. Support

You can’t expect your staff to remain motivated to stay and give their role 100% if you don’t support them in their position. You need to be a presence in their working role and often dedicated quality time can be much more appreciated than showering staff members with gifts. If you build a presence so you become someone they can talk to, whom they can share their ideas and feel they will be actioned, they are more likely to be loyal and want to develop working in the school. You simply need to have a self-awareness of what you would appreciate and then convey this to your staff.

5. Community Culture

Finally, one of the best ways to keep teachers is to make sure they feel part of the collective community and culture at a school. This might be achieved through peer mentoring, curricular clubs or being an NQT mentor. 60% of education respondents said that they would take a pay cut for a better cultural fit within a school. Therefore, making sure you effectively promote your school culture not only at interview, but throughout employment, is critical for boosting loyalty and teacher retention.

Find out more key findings about what educators want by requesting our What Workers Want Report.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Paul has been with Hays since 1999 and the National Director of Hays Education since 2007. He is responsible for leading experts from 40 offices across the UK who specialise in recruiting for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, SEN, Further Education and Leadership staff on a daily supply, long term supply or permanent basis. His extensive experience is invaluable to ensuring schools, colleges, nurseries, academies and MATs have access to the best possible candidates.


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