Teacher mobility in the UK

Teachers are searching near and, surprisingly, far for their next role. Jon Romer-Lee, Research and Strategy Director at Tes, looks at the evidence that shows teachers are prepared to move significant distances to find their dream job.
25th April 2017 at 12:30

For many years, the few weeks after Easter have represented peak recruiting season for schools in the UK. As the closing of the teacher resignation ‘transfer window’ looms ever closer, schools face increasing pressure to find replacement teachers quickly, and with more schools looking for candidates now than at any other time of the year, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd.


Teacher recruitment adverts often contain three main components:

  • A brief description of the job
  • Information about the school, including performance and culture
  • Description of benefits and what an ideal candidate looks like


One key element that we often see missing from adverts is detail about the local area in which the school is situated. Working on the assumption that most teachers look close to home when moving jobs, many schools don’t see the need to ‘sell’ the local area as well as the job and the school. However, new analysis from Tes is starting to show that teaching is much more of a nationally – or even internationally – mobile profession than you might expect.


The jobs we run on our site are viewed millions of times a year, and we’re able to track where this interest comes from over time. While our subscriptions customers are soon going to able to see where interest in their own jobs has come from, we can also aggregate this data to look at regional trends. Shortly, we’ll be introducing a tool for all schools to use to understand where they should expect interest in their jobs to come from – and therefore guide how they might write their advertisements. We’re really excited about how useful this will be for all our customers – so we’ve decided to release a sneak preview that starts to show the level of variability across the country. For illustration, below are ‘heat maps’ of where secondary school job interest comes from for the two Local Authorities of Hampshire and Cambridgeshire:

Teachers move all over the UK for their ideal job

Cambridgeshire receives 25% of interest from within the Local Authority – vs 16% for Hampshire. This suggests that the former is better at retaining teaching talent, and relies less on movement of teachers from nearby into the county. Hampshire, on the other hand, sees significant interest from nearby, especially from Southampton and Portsmouth, but also from counties like Surrey (4% interest).

Perhaps surprisingly, for both counties, over half the interest comes from teachers who would likely need to move house to work in the school; 40% from teachers in the UK, and an additional 10% from overseas. These teachers need to know what it’s like to live and work in the local area – and the best performing adverts often describe local benefits including cost of living, nearby activities, or transport links to demonstrate this.

That’s not all this data can tell us. The level of local interest varies over the year, as shown for Hampshire below. It’s not a surprise – teachers looking at jobs in January are often looking to start in September and are more likely to be looking for career advancement. They therefore have 9 months to move house and are more willing to work further afield. In contrast, as the end of May approaches there is less time to make such significant career changes, and recruitment becomes slightly more local. This challenges the traditional 'stock advertisement' approach to recruitment - different sorts of teachers are more or less likely to read adverts at different times of the year, so schools that can adjust their message over the year will be well placed for success.

What can you do next time you have a vacancy?

  • Make sure you're advertising somewhere teachers from all over the country are going to be looking
  • As well as selling the role and your school to a potential candidate, consider selling your local area too
  • If you were a teacher looking for a job at this time of year, what would you want to read about in an advert?