Melanie Butler explains how and why our four super schools hang on to their staff
Only four language course providers have a perfect score on British Council Inspection reports: three year-round private language schools and one summer school organiser. But how do they do on another important metric used in educational research: teacher retention. For mainstream UK education, keeping teachers is a key issue.
“We know that high-quality teaching is the thing that makes the biggest difference to young people’s academic grades,” says Sir Kevan Collins, CEO of the Educational Endowment Foundation. “Yet recruiting and retaining teachers… is challenging.”
British Council inspections do not even cover staff turnover. But all three of the private language schools who received a perfect score on inspection retain close to 90 per cent of teachers, year-on-year.
Last year, the turnover rate at LSI Portsmouth was at13 per cent, it was less than ten per cent at Wimbledon School of English and at just 7.5 per cent at ELC Bristol.
“What helps us a lot to retain our teachers is that our student numbers are very stable,” says John Duncan of ELC Bristol.
“Being able to retain our teachers helps us maintain the quality of the teaching and the resulting student satisfaction, in turn, helps us to achieve good student numbers year-round. So, without doubt, teacher retention is a key factor in our success.”
High teacher turnover is inevitable for holiday course providers, who perforce have no permanent teaching staff. Summer Boarding Courses, which also has a perfect score, had 42 per cent of teachers returning this year. Their return rate in leadership roles is twice as high.
“All our DoSs have been with us for four summers or more,” Sam Holderness point out.
The top three language schools all boast high levels of year-round permanent staff. All full time staff at ELC Bristol are permanent, and the roughly half of all teachers who prefer to work part time enjoy the same terms and conditions.
More than 70 per cent of all teachers are permanent at LSI, rising to 90 per cent at Wimbledon School of English. Wimbledon CEO, Jane Dancaster said that, “Having a core team of permanent staff, both teachers and administrators, enables us to have a programme of continuous professional development (CPD). That in turn helps us to deliver consistently high quality programmes.”
The availability of CPD is one reason teachers choose to stay at a school, according to LSI Portsmouth. Other reasons they cited were the feeling of being “settled,” the “wide variety of courses” and “the collegiate atmosphere.”
High quality teaching makes the biggest difference, so hang on to high quality teachers.