Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 disruption on the quality and retention of trainee and newly qualified secondary school teachers

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: SSPP School Office


This project documents the impact of the substantial changes and sustained disruption caused by COVID-19 to the development of trainee and new secondary school teachers and will produce a set of recommendations to enhance teacher quality and retention. Failure to respond now means that 60,000 teachers, working in secondary schools across the UK, will not have sufficient expertise and may rapidly leave the profession. A lack of expertise and high numbers of teachers leaving the profession will have a serious impact on the educational outcomes of young people who have already faced significant disadvantage through school closures and ongoing COVID-19-related disruption.

Even before the current global pandemic, the Department for Education recognised the need for teachers to receive sustained and integrated professional development opportunities across the first two years of teaching to improve the quality of support and therefore increase teacher quality and retention. This has been implemented in the newly established Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework and the Early Career Framework.

New teachers have faced challenges to developing their teaching practice as schools have had to restrict the movement of teachers and student around classrooms and school sites to comply with COVID-19 safety requirements. Trainees have also been affected as they have had to predominantly access university education through online teaching and learning and have had reduced time in school placements due to the widespread closure of schools during March - July 2020 and September 2020 - March 2021.
Research findings will be generated through analysis of responses gathered from questionnaires and remote interviews with teachers, school leaders, and teacher education staff who are part of the teacher education network of King's College London (KCL). The project timeline includes interviews across 18 months so that teachers' experiences are captured during their year as a trainee and their first year working as a qualified teacher.

This project will provide rich understandings of the impacts of COVID-19 on teacher quality and retention that will have relevance for policy makers, school leaders and ITT providers across the UK. As such, this proposal seeks both to extend existing UKRI funded research into the social impacts of COVID-19 on education, as well as enhance current policy commitments to strengthen teacher quality and retention across the education sector. This will both alleviate the current challenges posed by the pandemic and ensure better preparedness for future extreme events.


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