4 ways to improve retention in international schools

Four principals in Dubai give us their top tips on how to keep staff happy and boost retention

Tes Marketing

4 ways to improve staff wellbeing and retention in international schools

Wellbeing always plays a key role in staff retention, and especially in the competitive international school market. We spoke to four principals in Dubai to find out what steps they take to keep hold of their valued staff.

1) Encourage frequent communication and feedback

Anthony Cashin, Principal at Kent College in Dubai, uses regular surveys to give his staff a voice and enable the senior leadership team to offer support in a targeted, effective way.

“With our staff wellbeing survey software Staff Pulse, we give senior leaders the ability to proactively improve their schools' environment and cement a wellbeing strategy which has a direct influence on staff wellbeing and turnover and student outcomes,” he says.

Staff Pulse uses continuous short, anonymous surveys to quickly identify problem areas and provide support where needed. It allows customers to track trends throughout the year using real-time data, respond to staff comments offering help and support and create action plans involving their staff in the improvement process.


4 ways to improve staff wellbeing and retention in international schools

2) Work on work-life balance

“We've introduced wellbeing weeks where we completely scale back, if not remove, all meetings,” says Rebecca Coulter, Principal at Dubai British School.

“There was never an expectation for staff to work at home anyway, but we have taken away the emails in the evenings, we've just said staff don't email after 6.30pm.” 

Sometimes teachers will feel inclined to put the needs of their students or school above their own. To create a culture of wellbeing in your school, teachers should be guided to set boundaries to preserve their wellbeing and prevent burnout.  

When staff are struggling – whether it’s with workload, family, isolation or just having a bad day – you need to be able to help them to understand that it’s OK, and have the support in place to help them manage their wellbeing.

Our Supporting Staff Wellbeing in Schools online training course can help, offering staff information, guidance and support to look after their own wellbeing and that of colleagues.


3) Let staff lead their development 

“We look at professional development from their point of view as opposed to top-down,” says Fiona Cottam, Principal at Hartland International School in Dubai. “Things are increasingly built from the bottom up and I think that makes staff feel far more valued.” 

Finding staff that support your school's mission, vision and values can be challenging, especially with the current teacher recruitment crisis. But you may already have outstanding staff (such as teaching assistants) working within your school, and Straight to Teaching can help you develop talented individuals into qualified teachers.

Our unique programme ranges from one to five terms and is available in all school settings including primary, secondary, mainstream, SEND, alternative provision, independent and boarding schools. 

We'll tailor the programme to your staff’s existing teaching experience and they’ll have the opportunity to develop their skills and career while they continue to work at your school.


4) Re-evaluate the timetable

Richard Drew, Principal of Jumeira Baccalaureate School in Dubai, explains that his school opted to adjust the timing of the day after listening to staff feedback. 

“We have a later start and early finish on a Thursday,” he says. “We try and pack more into the four and a half days than the five full days.”  

High workloads can leave teachers feeling overworked and undervalued. Schools can support staff by reducing the amount of work associated with marking, admin and lesson planning.

Our intelligent timetabling software Edval Timetable gives schools the ability to explore numerous timetable scenarios at the touch of a button, improving teacher wellbeing, teacher and student satisfaction, school capital expenditure and more.


Request your free copy of our guide: 4 ways to improve staff wellbeing and retention in international schools

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