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Understanding the complex determinants of teacher supply and retention

Participants: PI Dr Beng Huat See, CI Professor Stephen Gorard 

Attracting and retaining qualified teachers is a persistent problem that has plagued many countries for decades despite huge investments to solve the problem. Reanalysis of official data in England suggests that the recent historical patterns of teacher numbers are not closely related to the economic and employment cycles. Therefore, current financial incentives to increase teacher supply are not likely to be effective by themselves.  

Our study provides a holistic approach to the problem by clarifying the complex determinants of teacher demand and supply, characterising intending, potential and non- teachers and identifying barriers to entering teaching, and effective approaches to recruitment and retention. We do this through a systematic review and synthesis of international evidence, reanalysis of government published data, analysis of government documents, and a very large national survey of undergraduates and teacher trainees.  

The findings of the survey are relevant and important for teachers, school leaders, policymakers and funders of research. A shortage of qualified teachers can have a detrimental effect on the life chances of children. Ensuring an adequate supply of qualified teachers is important for the provision of an effective education system. Establishing the source of the problem is crucial to finding a solution to the problem. Too much time and money is being spent on purported solutions that have no clear evidence base. 

Read the impact this project is having in our case study.