Treat 'em nice, keep 'em longer

7th September 2001 at 01:00
AS a former school inspector now working as an educational consultant in the UK and Spain, I am in regular contact with newly-qualified teachers and strongly believe that the quality of induction is a key factor in recruitment and retention. Of course, many teachers avoid what they consider to be less desirable parts of the country and some locations are too expensive. But my recent evaluations of education authority support for NQTs in the north of England are revealing and highlight the importance of good-quality induction and the difference it makes.

In one of the LEAs, young teachers responded positively to the sustained support and encouragement from LEA advisers. The teachers demonstrated a high degree of loyalty to their schools and to the LEA, made significant gains in their teaching skills and knowledge during the course of the year and understood that they were on the first step of a ladder of continuing professional development which would be sustained throughout their careers. Of the 100-plus teachers I interviewed in their first and second years, not one expressed a desire to leave the profession. By contrast, I have met NQTs in some areas who have received minimal guidance and have not even been aware of the LEA staff member to contact in case of difficulty.

Rather than just bemoaning the crisis, a systematic analysis is needed of the root causes; examples of best induction practices should be shared more widely. Incidentally, student teachers are often well aware, from their own networking, where they will be best looked after and make applications accordingly. They are less interested in glossy brochures than in being genuinely valued.

David Scott "OFSOL" 9 Casares del Mar Marbella, Spain

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