New science teacher retention statistics

The Wellcome Trust's recent research highlights that both the percentage of science teachers leaving their school and leaving the teaching profession altogether is on the increase.

Summary of the research statistics:

  • The chance of science teachers leaving their school within the first five years is 26% higher than for non-science subjects;
  • The likelihood of science teachers leaving the profession altogether within five years, is 5% higher than non-science teachers; and
  • The increasing risk of newly qualified science teachers with a physics/engineering degree leaving after five years is 29% higher than for non-science NQTs. The combination of young age and inexperience offers the greatest risk of attrition.

Potential reasons:

  • Pay - science teachers appear to get slower pay rises than non-science teachers. Research shows that science teacher pay is around £110.00 per year lower than non-science teachers.

  • Teaching multiple areas of science - many science teachers have to teach physics, chemistry and biology, despite only having expertise in one of these fields.

  • Workload - the DfE's research the Workload Challenge identifies three main causes of excessive workload:

1. data management

2. marking

3. planning

Actions to reduce science teacher retention:

  • Financial Incentives by the DfE in 2017/2018 - bursary packages are offered, which includes £30,000 tax-free for graduates with a first class degree training to teach physics, and £25,000 for biology and chemistry.
  • Future Scholars Programme - the Education Development Trust offer up to £15,000 to maths and science undergraduates in return for a commitment to each for three years after graduating.
  • Paid partnership scheme for teaching - internships can be paid to maths and physics undergraduates who want to experience teaching before committing to a career.
  • Continuing professional development (CPD) training - research from Sutton Trust, Science Shortfall (January 2017), found that secondary academies were more likely than maintained schools to have science specialist teachers. The research recommends that multi-academy trusts should encourage teachers from other schools to offer CPD courses in schools with shortages of science teachers.