This research was commissioned by the Strategic Schools Partnership in response both to national concerns about teacher supply and loss of teachers from the profession and to the specific challenges faced by schools in Oxfordshire, most obviously because of the high cost of housing. Using a questionnaire survey of primary, secondary and special schools and interviews with induction tutors and with teachers who had chosen to remain in post for at least three years, its aim was to identify not only the barriers to effective recruitment and retention of new teachers, but also the positive attractions that had persuaded many of them both to apply for work and to remain within the county – factors that could be more effectively enhanced and promoted by local teacher training providers, by individual schools and by the different members of the Strategic Schools Partnership Board. The research was disseminated at a conference for school leaders and local councillors held by the SSPB (2nd November 2016).
The following recommendations have particular relevance to the collective work of the Strategic Schools Partnership, but there are many other specific recommendations for the different stake-holders.
It is important to think regionally as well as locally about recruitment: ensuring that advertisements about distinctive features of the county’s provision (as well as details about specific vacancies) are effectively communicated through providers in neighbouring counties as well as through recruitment drives within OTSA, OBU and OUDE.
Schools and local providers both need to ‘sell’ the advantages of Oxford/Oxfordshire as an area steeped in education with a deep commitment to teachers’ continued professional learning and career development. Even teachers who choose to take up posts here (often because of existing links to the county) may remain unaware of what the area (the universities, OTSA) has to offer.
Where there is a negative narrative about a particular local context, it may be helpful to counter this by stressing opportunities for learning rather than support in facing the challenges.
The provision of additional financial support (or appropriate kinds of affordable housing) would obviously be welcomed by teachers, but it may be more useful to focus available funds/resources on the retention of teachers at the point they become more concerned about the costs of living.
OTSA has already launched a number of initiatives in response to the report’s findings:
Provision of a ‘Get into Teaching’ programme – focussed on recruiting graduates currently working as support staff within local schools.
Production of a leaflet about teacher training opportunities for schools to include in their welcome packs for new graduate support staff.
Construction of an OTSA job board to advertise posts. Schools can each create a profile to highlight the benefits of working there, while individuals seeking work can also use to market themselves.
Welcome to Oxfordshire presentations, for all trainees at Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford, led by headteachers who began their own careers in the county.
Our ambition now is to build on these foundations, by seconding a part-time member of staff dedicated to recruitment who would be able to support individual schools as they market the opportunities that they offer new teachers
support county-wide recruitment initiatives (such as recruitment of overseas-trained teachers); and
promote the attractions of working within Oxfordshire