Staff Turnover: Why It's Bad, Why It's Bad In Teaching

The turnover of staff in education is getting higher and higher. It started out that schools with a particular behaviour problem would have a high staff turnover, as teachers finally had enough and left. Then, when I was working in schools, high staff turnover appeared in places that had bullying senior managers, as the staff went off with stress and depression, and eventually left. 

Now, I’m receiving requests for advice from more experienced, and therefore more expensive teachers who are being particularly targeted to be pushed out through bullying, and who are being replaced with cheaper staff. 

Aside from being cheap, schools benefit from having less experienced staff because they are more likely to agree to do additional duties and are more likely to accept new initiatives and not be jaded by the constant stream of them. They are less likely to kick up a stink about poor working conditions as well.

These are all things that, unfortunately, make a school successful in the current climate. It is actually a good strategy to carry out what Ofsted want and what the government want. However, it doesn’t necessarily make a school successful in providing the best education for students.

There’s an odd expectation in teaching that brand new teachers must teach to an exemplary standard right from the word go, and stay at that level constantly year after year. In the real world, teachers start off with basic skills and build on them with experience, so that more experienced teachers teach better lessons. Hence the existence of a pay scale.

Having a load of cheap, inexperienced teachers that consistently hit grade 1 and 2 in observations might look like value for money, but in actual fact the lessons are of a lesser quality no matter what the observation grades show. Indeed, bullying new teachers into reaching unattainable standards is one way of getting more value out of them.

High staff turnover also has the effect of causing a talent drain, over time. As good workers realise that as time goes on they are becoming less and less employable they are seeking their fortune elsewhere, leaving only those who have no other choice. This further erodes the quality of teaching, meaning managers have to bully more in order to get the performance required out of the staff they have.

Constantly changing teachers means that behaviour management techniques, which a lot of experts agree is based on a teacher’s status in the school and their long term relationships with students, don’t work as well. Everything becomes short term, and any supply teacher or cover supervisor will tell you, that makes it harder.

Students’ learning also suffers from a lack of continuity not only by changing schemes of work and pedagogy, but a constant 'starting again from day one's means students can’t see their own long term progress as well. Within the staff, departments can’t make continuous progression or develop as well.

If you want better teachers, don’t make it easier for managers to run those they don’t like out of the career for good or offer bribes and making it easy to train as a teacher. You need to make long term investments in people and give them good reasons to stay and develop and improve. Do you agree with me? Please comment below.


Anonymous said...

"If you want better teachers, don’t make it easier for managers to run those they don’t like out of the career for good"

Hang on - you want to improve standards by making teachers HARDER to sack? Isn't there already a crisis of competence in the profession?

By all means encourage, promote and develop the good ones... but the flipside of that HAS to be that the ones who just aren't good enough get shown the door *fast*. Increasing job security just attracts the useless.

The Edudicator said...

There is not a crisis of competence in the profession. Everyone has a bad days that effect their performance, for that to ruin your career in an instant is not the way to run things.

Pagkalis said...


Are you even reading the article?
He meant that (as a principal) protect your best teachers from your worst managers.

It is the teachers that will improve results, not non-teaching managers.

The Edudicator said...

Nice summary, thanks!

Post a Comment