Researchers ask if simpler marking improves teacher retention

New trials will test ways of keeping science teachers in the profession

Martin George

science, recruitment, retention, teachers, trials, workload, marking, observations

A four-year study will examine whether getting rid of complicated marking and unproductive lesson observations improves the retention of science teachers.

Research has found that science teachers are more likely than non-science teachers to leave the profession within five years.

And figures released yesterday showed the DfE has missed its 2018 postgraduate teacher training targets for chemistry and physics.

140 secondary schools in England will take part in the trial, announced today by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Wellcome.

It will test Leadership Lite, a whole-school programme developed by the Carmel Education Trust in the North East, which aims to reduce teacher workload by eliminating practices that are common in schools, but unsupported by any good evidence. 

Examples of strategies that schools might implement include replacing most formal observations with alternative approaches, or focusing lesson planning on the most important elements.

The National Foundation for Educational Research will evaluate the trial to see what impact the programme has on teacher retention and job satisfaction.

Another study announced today will pair chemistry teachers who have been in the classroom for one to five years with an experienced chemistry teacher who has been trained as a mentor.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: “Getting teachers, especially those at the early stages of their career, to stay in the profession is one of the biggest challenge our schools face today.

“We know that science teachers are more likely to leave within five years than their colleagues in other subjects. But we know little about what we can do to help them to stay.

“Our new trials will give us much needed insight about schools and policymakers can do to get more science teachers to stay in the profession.

“Teacher workload is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors affecting wellbeing. So we’ll look at whether reducing workload can help improve teacher wellbeing and retention. Teachers spend hours each week on time-consuming marking, but there’s little evidence to tell us whether these strategies have any impact on pupil attainment.”

The EEF launched six further new trials today, including one which see researchers from the UCL Institute of Education compare the difference in outcomes between schools that set pupils by prior attainment and those that teach pupils in mixed ability classes.

It follows earlier research by the EEF that found it can be difficult to test the impact of different types of attainment grouping through randomised controlled trials.



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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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