Professor Alan Smithers said teachers wanted to be in higher-performing schools with a clear sense of purpose and where they felt valued and supported.
"Teachers are looking at league tables and inspection reports when choosing which school is going to advance their careers," said Professor Smithers who has reported on teacher turnover for the Government. However, he added that a strong "sub-group" finds challenging schools rewarding.
Teachers are looking at exam results as a proxy of how keen children are to learn. Inspectors' views of a school's leadership are also a pulling point, as is a sixth form.
Professor Smithers said: "The problem in England is the unevenness of the education system. Staff turnover varies enormously from one school to another. One primary school had a 200 per cent turnover in one year."
The report by the University of Buckingham's centre for education shows that in 2004 5.3 per cent of secondary teachers moved school and 7.2 per cent quit the profession altogether. In primary schools, 10 per cent of teachers quit while 4.7 per cent changed jobs.
Headteachers led the exodus. A third of secondary heads who left in 2004 took early retirement compared with 29 per cent in 2002. More than 36 per cent of primary heads quit early last year, compared with 23 per cent in 2002.
The peak age for changing jobs was 25 to 29. From 45 onwards movement declined sharply.