Clare Dean reports on a study comparing staffing in opted-out schools with their neighbours.
The turnover rate of staff in the nation's 1,095 grant-maintained schools tops that of their local authority neighbours - and has hit a record high in opted-out primaries.
The sector, which saw massive growth during the first part of the decade, is now losing staff from both its primary and secondary schools.
Hardest hit by turnover of GM secondary staff were schools in the South-east and East Anglia, while those in the North-west and the North were least affected, according to figures obtained by the Local Government Management Board.
The key reasons for leaving were retirement, moving to local authority jobs or other posts in education, including placements in different GM schools.
Statistics for 1995 - the latest available - disclose that more than half the teachers who resigned from GM schools were women and show that four out of 10 were in their forties or fifties.
They show that staff turnover in primaries increased from 8.5 per cent in 1994 to 9.2 per cent in 1995 - the highest so far recorded - and was more than 1 per cent above that in LEA schools. In secondary schools it continued to rise, from 8.1 per cent to 8.5 per cent, and was slightly more than in their LEA neighbours (8.3 per cent).
The statistics, obtained from almost 900 opted-out schools, reveal that more than half of all teachers who resigned worked in the key subjects of English, sciences, maths and foreign languages.
They also show that more than half of the teachers who resigned had 0 or 1 responsibility point and that almost two-thirds had taught at the school for six years or less.
More than four-fifths of the GM teachers who left were graduates, a proportion far higher than from LEA schools (68 per cent).
Despite its high turnover rate, however, the opted-out sector enjoyed slightly better levels of recruitment than LEA schools.
In GM primaries, the recruitment rate was almost 2 per cent higher than that in their council counterparts.
In the secondary sector it fell almost 2 per cent in a year to 7.9 per cent, but was still higher than that in LEA schools (6.4 per cent) in 1995.
Six out of 10 recruits were women, and around three-fifths were under 30. Around three-quarters were recruited to posts with either no or one responsibility point and 95 per cent were graduates.
Maths, English, science and foreign languages scooped up more than half of the recruits.
The main difference, according to the LGMB, between LEA school recruits and those to grant-maintained schools was that more women were likely to choose a job with the local authority.
Five years ago, the sector enjoyed an apparent employment boom as more schools opted out. The number of people employed increased by a massive 221.9 per cent between 1992 and 1993 as the number of GM schools grew by 28.6 per cent.
The number of grant-maintained staff grew from 10,327 to 33,239 in a year. In primary schools, the number increased by 392.4 per cent (from 490 to 2, 413) and in secondaries by 213 per cent (from 9,837 to 30,826).
There was less expansion the following year, with total employment increasing by slightly more than a quarter, from 33,239 to 42,066. In primary schools it increased by 105.4 per cent (from 2,413 to 4,956) and in secondaries by 20.4 per cent (from 30,826 to 37,110).
Between September 1994 and 1995, the increase in employment was smaller still, at 4.3 per cent overall (from 42,066 to 43,859). Figures were again higher in primary schools, at 12.5 per cent, than in secondaries, at 3.2 per cent.
The statistics mirror the declining interest in the Government's flagship education policy over the last two years.
And last week, Local Schools Information, the local authority-funded advisory body, claimed the policy had unofficially ended as it was now too late for schools to opt out before the general election.