Could simpler marking processes boost Science teacher retention?


A set of new educational trials is set to examine factors that could boost retention among science teachers.

The four-year study will investigate whether the removal of complicated marking structures and unproductive lesson observations could help to keep teaching staff in the profession.

Previous research has suggested that science teachers are more likely than their peers in other subjects to leave teaching or switch schools.

Now a trial featuring 140 English secondary schools will test Leadership Lite, a programme designed to cut teacher workload by removing practices that are commonplace, yet that lack any sort of evidence that promotes their use.

Promoted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Wellcome, the trial will be measured based on its impact on retention and teacher wellbeing.

Schools may look to replace formal observations with other approaches or may refocus lesson planning on just the key parts of the curriculum if they are taking part.

A further study will pair chemistry teachers with one to five years of experience with other more experienced chemistry teachers that have had mentoring training.

EEF chief executive Sir Kevan Collins explained that while it is known that science teachers are more likely to leave the profession, little is known about what might persuade them to stay in teaching.

“Getting teachers, especially those at the early stages of their career, to stay in the profession is one of the biggest challenges our schools face today,” he said.

“Our new trials will give us much-needed insight about what schools and policymakers can do to get more science teachers to stay in the profession.”

He added that improving teacher wellbeing is a key factor, and questioned whether complicated marking strategies are required, especially when there is “little evidence” of their impact on pupil attainment.

The EEF has launched several other trials too, including one that looks at learning outcomes among pupils that are put in sets based on attainment and others in mixed ability classes.