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The MTPT Project are fortunate to have partnerships with a number of experienced academics and think tanks.  With their support, we are trying to find out more about the links between gender, motherhood, teacher retention and leadership.

The MTPT Project is not a research organisation, but through our previous surveys, we have gathered sufficient information to gain the attention of much larger organisations who have access to exciting data, or the resources to undertake large scale research in these areas.

Our most recent survey is exploring the reasons that women aged 30-39 either stay in or leave the classroom.  We are particularly interested in this demographic because of a 2016 Policy Exchange report that indicated that this is the largest group leaving teaching every year.

We have received 568 responses to our “staying in teaching” questionnaire and 532 responses to our “leaving teaching” questionnaire and have now closed both surveys to analyse our data.  We have interviewed over 40 female teachers aged 30-39 who are still teaching and are now completing qualitative telephone interviews with women who left teaching aged 30-39.

What do we already know?
The “motherhood penalty”

There is an increasing amount of data related to the issue of the impact of gender inequality on teacher retention and educational leadership, the teacher workforce and the gender pay gap:

  • 3.4% of teachers are on maternity leave at any given time: 3% of primary teachers and 4% of secondary teachers (School Workforce Census, 2016).
  • On average, female teachers take 8.5 months of maternity leave (School Workforce Census, 2016).
  • A 2016 Policy Exchange report (p.17 onwards), which states that 23% of teachers in the UK are women aged 30-39.  The same age bracket make up 27% of the teachers who leave the profession every year (excluding those who retired).
  • The 2017 DfE Gender Pay Gap Report identifying 5.3% difference in pay between men and women in the education system.
  • The Office for National Statistics 7781 Quarterly Labour Force Survey, April – June, 2015 (referenced in Appendix 3 of Dr. Emma Kell’s doctorate thesis), which states that 46% of teachers have dependent children under 19; 44% of parent teachers do not work full time; 30% of teachers have children under 4, and 13% of teachers have children under 2.

Sometimes bullet points are boring, so we’ve created some fun infographics that are more interesting to look at!  If you do like to read reports, though, all of this research can be found on our articles page.

What do we already know?
“Life friendly” schools

Research into the impact of teacher wellbeing is notoriously difficult to quantify or prove empirically.  However, there are numerous studies that support the hypothesis that “life friendly” schools result in positive student outcomes.

We know that workload, mental health, and the maternity leave period can provide a perfect storm for attrition in the teacher workforce, factors that are particularly pertinent to female teachers aged 30-39.  We know that schools that are “life friendly” have a better chance of retaining their teachers as they balance challenges and transitions in their personal and professional lives.

  • In 2016 the finding that 30% of teachers left the profession within 5 years of qualifying was widely publicised
  • A 2016-17 Education Committee Report indicated that 76% of teachers cite unmanageable workload as a reason for considering leaving the profession
  • In the 2017 Teacher Retention and Turnover research report, the NFER cite DfE figures indicating that teachers work an average of 57 hours a week
  • The 2014 NCTL report into teachers returning to the profession indicates that the three main barriers faced by returners are lack of recent classroom experience, insufficient curriculum knowledge and lack of flexible working opportunities

This is in part why our Accreditation process is beneficial for teacher recruitment as well as retaining teachers as they return from parental leave.