Improving science teacher retention: do National STEM Learning Network professional development courses keep science teachers in the classroom?

The Wellcome Trust commissioned the research reported here with two aims: to develop a greater understanding of science teacher retention; and to test whether there is any link between subject specific CPD delivered by the National STEM Learning Network and likelihood to stay in the profession.

The research shows that science teachers are indeed more likely to leave the profession than similar non-science teachers – this is particularly true for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and particularly NQTs with physics or engineering degrees. Much evidence has been gathered that shows the positive impact of CPD delivered by the National STEM Learning Network on science teaching and student outcomes. This research reveals an additional benefit of much improved teacher retention. This gives a good return on investing in CPD – that is, the teachers who have benefited from these courses stay in the profession for longer. But importantly, this powerful finding also suggests that if all science teachers accessed National STEM Learning Network CPD then retention would significantly improve, and without it workforce shortages could have been a lot worse.

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