Staff Retention by Role: Unpicking The Reasons Why Your Staff Leave

On the face of it, recruitment and retention may not seem to have a direct link to procurement. However, it is a subject that affects us all. With rising resignation rates, we can expect to pay more for recruitment which further squeezes our budgets. It is in all our interests to understand what the levers are that encourage retention. Some of these may be surprising.

In this blog Ben Willetts, Content and Insights Specialist for Edurio looks at the factors that encourage staff retention and takes a dive into staff retention rates comparing them with trends over the last 4 years.

Edurio has been running surveys for schools and trusts for the past 5 years. It has recently published its report Staff Retention by Role based on data gathered from its Staff Experience and Well Being Survey using responses from 956 schools across 98 trusts with 46,918 respondents.

We also ran a really useful webinar with Ben which goes into further details and has extremely insightful data.

National Picture of Staff Retention

The survey shows that in response to the question “How often in the last three months have you considered resigning from your role?”, from the 2018/19 academic year to the 2020/21 academic year, there was a fairly even decrease in the percentage of staff considering resigning going from 44% to 38%. However, following the 2020/ 2021 academic year, there has been a year on year increase. In 2022/23 we have had the highest number of staff saying they have considered resigning since the survey started with an increase from 38% in 2020/2021 to 49% in 2022/23.

Using the School Workforce Census data we can see that from 2018/2019 to 2019/2020 there was a decrease in the number of staff actually leaving the role. However, for the two years since Covid 19 there has been an increase. The data for 2022/23 is not yet available however we predict that there will be a continued rise in the number of people leaving schools.

What Is The Picture Role By Role?

Senior Leadership

The number of senior leaders considering resigning follows a similar trajectory to the national picture. The proportion of senior leaders considering resignation increased by a third (from 24% to 31%) between 2018 and the end of 2022 . However, this has been followed by a slight decrease in 2022/23.

In terms of this survey, it is important to note that senior leaders are the most positive. There has been speculation in the sector that this could be down to how close senior leaders are to policy setting and implementation of policy.

Impacts on Decisions

Workload had a strong impact on whether people were considering resignation. Where senior leaders find their workload challenging and felt excited about the work they were doing a day-to-day basis, they were less likely to consider resignation.

Relationship with trust had a moderate impact. By relationship with the Trust, we mean how comfortable senior leaders feel with reporting concerns to the trust or how, for example, respected by the trust they feel. The impact on staff was moderate given that staff who found it difficult to voice concerns were more likely to report considering resigning in their roles. Therefore, improving the relationships with the Trust could possibly have a positive impact on senior leader retention rates.

Communication had a moderate impact. Many of the communication questions asked how confident they felt voicing concerns to their senior leadership, how easy they found it to communicate with staff and colleagues.  Senior leaders were most positive about communication. This is an important area to watch as if the levels of communications were to drop then you can expect levels of positivity to drop also which will have an impact on senior leaders risk of resigning.

Middle Leaders

From 2018/2019 to 2020/21 there was a decrease in the overall risk of resignation but in the last 2 years there has been a very sharp increase from 38% to 48%.  Middle leaders were one of the least positive respondents.

Impacts on Decisions

Leadership dynamics had a strong impact. Leadership dynamics is the relationship with line managers and senior leaders. Those less happy with leadership dynamics were considerably more likely to report that they were considering resigning.

Workload had a moderate impact. 55% of middle leaders also identified as having a teaching role meaning that they have a day-to-day teaching activities as well as a leadership role. It is not surprising on this basis that workload has an impact.

Pay and benefits had a limited impact in whether they would consider resigning, but it is the area that Middle Leaders were least positive about.


Teachers are still most at risk of resignation. After a downward trend over three years, the percentage of Teachers considering resigning has risen to a record high of 49%, an 11% increase on 2020/2021.

Impacts on Decisions

Trust vision and values has a moderate impact. Teachers were less positive than their peers about their Trust’s vision and values particularly in response to the question to what extent do you think trust values are embedded into the culture at their school? This has a high impact with staff risk of resignation.

Leadership dynamics has a strong impact and those with a less positive view about leadership were more likely to consider resigning. Therefore, monitoring and improving leadership dynamics could have a high impact on teacher retention. The use of surveys, for example and using the results positively would be hugely beneficial in this regard.

Support from a line manager had a moderate impact. Generally, teachers were positive and felt supported. However, if this were to deteriorate then it would have an impact on retention as those who were less positive about their line manager were more likely to resign.

Teaching Assistants

This follows a similar trend. Over the three years there was a decrease in the percentage of staff consider resigning. However, since 2020/2021 teaching assistants have seen the biggest increase (12%) in the percentage of staff considering resigning

Impacts on Decisions

Workload has a strong impact It has the lowest overall scores, and it has a strong relationship with retention. The question with the biggest relationship with Teaching assistants’ risk of resignation was: How often do you feel excited by the work that you do? So the less excited they were the more likely they would be to consider resignation.

Leadership dynamics has a strong impact and correlates most strongly for Teaching assistants and is one of their least positive factors. Targeted improvement and support with Leadership dynamics in schools could have an impact on the retention of Teaching assistants in the same way with teachers.

Communication has a moderate/strong impact. Teaching assistants were fairly positive about communication within their schools and as it was viewed as important to them it should be monitored.

Administrative Staff

Administrative staff saw the largest decrease year on year in 2022/23 with 39% of staff considering resigning, 4% decrease compared to 2021/22

Impacts on Decisions

Professional support had a strong impact One of the questions that had a strong relationship with Administration staff risk of resignation was: How easy or difficult is it to get support with your mental and emotional wellbeing?

Communication had a strong impact This was regarded positively. Ensuring Communication and Support from line managers remains strong may help retain Administrative staff.

These questions have a strong relationship with Administrative staff risk of resignation:

  • In general, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the communication between you and your leadership?
  • How often is information about work-related day-to-day changes communicated to you in a timely manner?

Creating you own survey

Edurio creates and conducts surveys for schools and Trusts and they have developed a free resource to help develop and manage your own survey. Stakeholder Feedback Hub (

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