Solving the STEM shortage: CPD improves science teacher retention

Science CPD at STEM Learning

New research shows that continuing professional development (CPD) can play a significant role in retaining science teachers and improving science education.

Commissioned by Wellcome and carried out by Education Datalab, the research found that science teachers who participate in CPD through STEM Learning are much more likely to remain in teaching.

One in 12 teachers who did not participate in STEM Learning CPD left teaching within two years. This drops to 1 in 30 for those who did, when other factors (such as age and gender) are taken into account, increasing the odds of remaining by 160%.

STEM Learning provides high quality, subject-specific CPD for science teachers and technicians across the UK that already has proven impact on teachers and their students.

The research found that between 2010 and 2013, 83% of all secondary schools in England had at least one teacher attend a STEM Learning course and 25% of science teachers in England attended at least one course.

This research further demonstrates that those who participate in CPD stay in teaching longer, leading to better trained and more experienced science teachers. The association between participating in CPD and improved retention held when demographic, science department and school factors are taken into account.

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of STEM Learning, said:

“We are delighted by the findings of this new report, which shows clearly that teachers who engage with our CPD are much more likely to stay in the profession. This important research comes at a time of increasing concern over teacher recruitment and retention – particularly in the strategically important STEM subjects. I hope it will encourage those engaged in educational leadership – at school, college or national level – to ensure teachers get access to the career-long CPD they need and all young people get the world-class science education they deserve.”

Wellcome believes that all science teachers should regularly participate in high-quality, subject-specific CPD throughout their careers. Wellcome has been funding Project ENTHUSE since 2008 to provide bursaries for CPD for science teachers and technicians.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at Wellcome, said:

“We want all young people to experience high-quality science education and this simply isn’t possible without well trained, specialist science teachers. Most school leaders already recognise that high-quality CPD leads to more engaging and effective teaching, but this research shows that it helps to keep them in the profession too. This makes a powerful case for school leaders and governors to prioritise this for their science teachers.”

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