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How can the FE sector retain top teachers?

10 May 2022

The Great Resignation is a phrase usually associated with office workers, but recent stats indicate that the next Great Resignation could be among teaching staff.  A survey conducted by the National Education Union (NEU)  found that a fifth of teachers (22%) said they would leave within two years. An estimated 44% of teachers in England are planning to quit by 2027.

Why are teachers leaving the profession?

Statistics published by the DfE reveal that of teachers who qualified in 2014, just 67% were still in service after five years in 2019.

Teacher Workload

The high drop-out rates suggest that attempts to tackle teacher workload - seen as a main obstacle to teacher retention - is failing.

Teachers’ mental health is being damaged by working excessive and long hours, causing stress and burnout. Research by the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union revealed that, nine out of ten teachers (91%) reported that their workload has increased in the last year, according to the Union’s Big Question Survey 2022.

Flexible Working

In the private sector, The Great Resignation has come about partly due to employees wanting the flexibility of remote working and flexible hours. In the private sector, companies are trialling four-day weeks with no reduction in pay and are offering flexible hybrid-working.

And, while the world around us has changed considerably, the fundamentals of education have not shifted in the same way. Professionals, including teachers, are looking at flexible working as a key priority in their career decisions and job search. Teaching is generally a sector where these new types of working cannot be offered. 

Career Progression and Salaries

School teachers are currently paid over £9,000 more than college teachers on average, despite many college lecturers being more specialist and having industry experience. FE salaries are also often lower than those in industries.

Jade Blackburn, Director of Human Resources at Waltham Forest College, reveals:

"We know that teachers have concerns about an ever increasing workload and that salaries in the FE sector are being outstripped by salaries on offer back in ‘industry’ – this is a particular challenge in the construction trades and IT & Digital."

Staff that leave the profession often report that their college or school had limited career development and training options. And when it is there for the taking, a lack of time and a heavy workload can prevent FE tutors from taking-up continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities.

The perception of teaching

Although teachers in the UK battled on as key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, there is an issue with perception, which is common in countries including the UK and US.

Teaching and marking are what most people think of when they think of a career in education, but there are a whole host of other parts of the role that many outside the sector do not appreciate, which can often be surprising and very challenging to new teachers coming into the profession. This includes admin, lesson preparation, assessments, record keeping, exams, and pastoral care. They also often don’t consider the more personal skill element of teaching, such as managing the emotional charge of a room of 30 (often young) minds or the emotional intelligence of what it takes to drive and motivate each member of a class.

In the 2018 Global Teacher Status Index, the countries that most respect their teachers are China, Taiwan and Malaysia. In these countries, the teaching profession is seen as on par with doctors.

What is the sector doing about it?

When it comes to The Great Teacher Resignation, how we can attract and retain the next generation of FE staff is a key question.

Improving salaries, benefits & career development

The Association of Colleges (AOC) is pushing for the government to work with the FE sector so that colleges can pay their staff better and support them with their development. Some colleges have introduced a salary overhaul in certain subject areas. 

Waltham Forest College, is one example of an FE institution looking at the issue of salary and career development. As Jade Blackburn explains:

“Our turnover of teaching staff is lower than the sector average, but we’re not complacent – we have introduced recruitment and retention payments for new joiners in hard to fill roles, we’re reviewing our overall benefits package and ensuring staff have access to good quality CPD so that our first and foremost succession planning tool is to grow and develop our own staff into future teachers, managers and leaders.”

Those working outside of the education sector are not aware of the generous annual leave entitlement that comes with FE. Although this is dependent on the type of role, most are entitled to around 38 days holiday per year, plus bank holidays. This is significantly higher than the basic 20-to-25-day standard allowance. FE providers could be more transparent about this benefit, as well as other benefits such as pensions. College staff have access to the Teacher Pension Scheme, which compares favourably to almost all private sector schemes.

Reviewing teacher workload

Waltham Forest College is looking into the issue of workload. As Jade Blackburn explains,
“We’ve heard the concerns about workload and are continuing to work together to create workable, long term solutions to reduce workload - particularly administrative burdens on teachers.”

Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of teachers is also key to retaining staff and is an area that is being developed. 


The use of mentoring and coaching for teachers is widespread. Mentors and coaches may offer support to new teachers as part of an induction process or to existing teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.

Promoting flexible opportunities

Although FE workloads are demanding, teachers and assessors can often choose between working full-time, part-time, compressed hours, evenings or even on a casual, hourly basis. This leaves significant scope for flexibility in working hours. Nowadays, there is an opportunity for FE colleges to promote flexible working and home working options where possible.

Attracting new staff to the sector

There is an opportunity for FE institutions to adopt some of the tactics that the private sector uses in their candidate attraction and one such example is reviewing their employer brand.

FE colleges are diversifying where posts are advertised to reach a wider talent pool. They are also broadening their use of social media, working in partnership with industry to offer specialist delivery and engaging with specialist recruitment agencies to headhunt teachers and trainees. 

Other key areas for teacher attraction can include growing a pipeline by promoting vacancies to existing staff and students completing their studies and alumni, as well as promoting FE jobs to parents at student open evenings.

Ongoing commitment

Finally, inconsistency in management styles between different schools and colleges is a real challenge. Good onboarding and ensuring a consistent and robust induction process for all staff can go some way to address this.

So, while there might be a Great Teacher Resignation about to happen, teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession. As schools and colleges continue to take action to improve teacher workload and staff wellbeing, real progress can be made.

If colleges work proactively with the sector to understand the drivers behind current issues and improve their policies and interventions, attracting teachers and retaining them will no longer be the issue they are today.


How can organisations appreciate their employees?

03 March 2022

This year’s Employee Appreciation Day is on Friday 4th March. It will be the first since the onset of the Great Resignation.  There are many theories about what is driving post-pandemic resignations. But one thing is clear: UK workers often feel burned out and undervalued.

With scattered teams working from home (WFH) and hybrid working the ‘new normal' it is easy for employees to feel disconnected. And underappreciated. 

Companies know that their employees are their greatest asset. Employee Appreciation Day provides an opportunity for HR teams and managers to take stock. Employee appreciation is essential in fostering a motivated and happy workforce. An survey revealed that 86% of employees said recognition makes them happier at work.

The difference between appreciation and recognition

The words “recognition” and “appreciation” are not interchangeable. Recognition is about giving positive feedback based on results or performance. Appreciation is about acknowledging a person’s value. This difference matters because recognition and appreciation take place for different reasons. Often businesses focus on praising positive outcomes (recognition). Companies should ensure they’re doing both.

Appreciation and retention

A Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey shows that 53% of employees say more appreciation from their boss would help them stay longer at their company. Businesses that engage in employee appreciation see improved retention rates and lower staff turnover.

Companies conducting exit interviews may see that lack of appreciation is a culprit in driving employees to leave. Some may have stayed if their employers offered more rewards and recognition.

A culture of celebration

The need to belong is part of the human condition. A culture that celebrates career milestones, life events, and group achievements increases a candidate's desire to join and grow within the business.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Michael O’Malley states: “The best places to work provide people with life satisfaction, as opposed to job satisfaction alone.”

Appreciation, Happiness and Productivity

In the TED Talk: 'The Power of Appreciation' 43% of people who feel 'appreciated' are more effective and productive.

With WFH, hybrid working and the possibility of a four-day week, productivity is a hot topic. Appreciated employees are more engaged at work. Findings from BetterUp show that 56% of employees who felt belongingness have a higher level of job performance.

SurveyMonkey reports that 82% of workers consider appreciation an important part of their happiness. An Oxford University report shows that happier workers are 13% more productive at work.

Types of Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation takes many forms:

  • Day-to-day appreciation is frequent, simple and ongoing. It could include sending emails or e-cards.
  • Informal appreciation is when individuals or teams progress toward milestones. Or when they complete a complex project. These are often low-cost gestures such as lunchtime pizzas, after-work drinks or an earlier finish on Friday.
  • Formal structure appreciation often involves a nomination, selection process, ceremony or special event. It could be part of a formal recognition scheme.

Getting Started

It’s a good idea to ask employees what they would like so you are rewarding staff with something they value.

How to show appreciation

Nowadays, more companies value employee appreciation, rewards and recognition. It's something we see here at Morgan Hunt with our clients. They include:

Wellbeing Days

There is a correlation between work-life balance and employee performance and job satisfaction. Work-life balance:

  • reduces stress
  • prevents burnout
  • reduces sick leave
  • saves money
  • promotes a caring company culture

Remote working throughout lockdowns undoubtedly affected employee wellbeing.  A company-wide day off to encourage employees to look after their well-being can help.

Employee Recognition Programmes

Employee recognition refers to employees’ accomplishments. The most common programmes recognise one-time achievements.  Programmes can recognise team and individual work throughout the year. Consider asking current employees the type of recognition they desire most.

Over half (56%) of HR leaders believe recognition or appreciation schemes help with recruitment (SHRM). Candidates want to associate with employers that recognise and appreciate their employees.  These can include:

  • employee of the month club/award
  • annual awards events
  • financial incentives/vouchers
  • lunch with the CEO
  • earned time off

Celebrate anniversaries and birthdays

Do something special for employee birthdays and work anniversaries. A study found that employees were likely to leave after a year of employment. Don’t let the anniversary of an employee’s hire go unnoticed.  Acknowledging the important dates across your team shows you value them as individuals. This could be:

  • a coffee/bottle of wine/chocolates
  • greeting card
  • birthday day off
  • company-wide announcement
  • decorated desk

Regular employee surveys

Enabling employees to give feedback shows you value their input. Anonymous feedback portals or surveys ensure honest, quality responses. Consider having a mix of questions, like "Does your manager make you feel valued?" and allow employees to provide feedback. Employees feel valued the more they feel heard and want to contribute to the success of a company.

Appreciation portal

Giving and receiving appreciation increases morale, collaboration and job satisfaction. Some companies have online platforms where managers and peers can praise colleagues.

Offer learning opportunities

Investing in professional development shows you value staff.  For effective and cost-efficient ways to let employees learn new skills consider:

  • courses
  • conferences
  • tuition reimbursement
  • cross-training between departments
  • mentorships
  • budgets for learning materials e.g., books

Employee Appreciation Week (or Month)

Events throughout the week or month may include:

  • workshops
  • coffee and cake mornings
  • team lunches
  • offsite group/company activity
  • onsite massages/manicures
  • celebrations of teams’ cultural diversity

Say Thank You

A study from Each Person found that 51% of UK employees say a ‘thank you’ would make them feel more appreciated. A heartfelt thank you is a simple way to show appreciation.  While not everyone needs a ‘thank you’ to do a good job, many do. It won’t hurt those who don’t need to hear it, but it will mean much to those who do.


Finally, employee appreciation shouldn’t take place on one day. It should be integral to your company culture and adopted by management. Your employees are your most precious asset, now it’s time to appreciate them.


Can collaboration in recruitment enable an increase in BAME leadership?

15 February 2022

Many people working within the Further Education sector speak about the decline in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) college leaders. The number of black and ethnic minority principals leading FE colleges in England has dropped from 13% in 2017 to around 5% or 6% in 2020. On the flip side, the number of BAME students has increased to represent 30% of FE students.

With 239 FE colleges in England, it is estimated that between 12 and 14 are currently led by BAME principals, although the Association of Colleges has no official data. And, for those already working in FE, black staff in the sector are not only under-represented, but less likely to be promoted or get a permanent contract.


The Black Further Education Leadership Group (BFELG) is demanding urgent action to address racism in FE which is undermining “the sector’s ability to engage with all its constituent communities”. They have introduced a ‘10 Point Plan’ laying out possible solutions to the current situation.

Anti-racist Board and Executive Search Recruitment Practices

The recent webinar ‘Anti-racist Board and Executive Search Recruitment Practices’ was a panel discussion focused on anti-racist board and executive search recruitment practices. The session was a solid starting point to address these challenges.

Collaborative Learning

Anti-racist and diverse recruitment practices in the FE sector rely on collaboration. It’s about FE Institutions coming together with commercial companies, such as specialist recruitment businesses, to provide solutions and promote best practices. 

So much starts with recruitment and selection. And, recruitment agencies are in a position of influence. If we don’t address it with our clients we are adding to the problem.

The webinar featured three of the FE sector’s leading recruitment companies: AoC Services, Peridot Partners and Morgan Hunt, who along with FE Associates and Protocol have come together in this way for the first time, demonstrates the importance we all place on anti-racism, and our commitment to change.

Hilary Clifford, Director, AoC Services and Drew Richardson-Walsh, Director, Education Practice, Peridot Partners, along with myself all agree that we want people who are working in, and applying for positions in the FE sector to have the confidence that they are being judged on their ability, competence and potential - not their ethnicity.

There is a real opportunity for FE recruitment companies to work with their clients to:

  • Ensure best practice is being followed
  • Break down barriers
  • Challenge each other
  • Hold people accountable.

The Joint Commitment companies are an example of collaborative system leadership for change. This is a remarkable collaboration considering that under normal circumstances these companies operate as competitors in the FE market.

Anti-racist recruitment in the FE sector

When it comes to recruitment for leadership roles, recruitment in the FE sector is a mixed bag, with institutions hiring directly and through recruitment agencies. Boards, HR departments and recruitment companies all have a part to play in increasing representation from black communities. They also have a major role in challenging and reversing the status quo.

What can FE providers do to help?

When it comes to recruitment for institutions, FE colleges need to ensure that they can clearly articulate their value proposition, culture and beliefs. For the process to be successful, these establishments must ensure they are living and breathing these, and that what they promote is a reality when candidates join.

It takes more than just a diversity and inclusion policy. For it to be effective, each area needs to be addressed: anti racism, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability - and not address everything together as one.

Recruitment matters

Morgan Hunt is the first private sector organisation to become an affiliate of the BFLEG and support their BFELG 10 Point process. We are pleased to support the objectives, and specifically item six of the plan: “College recruitment processes, including the deployment of recruitment companies, to proactively address imbalances in the diversity of leadership at all levels.”

As recruitment professionals, we recognise the need for a shift in approaches to the development, attraction and recruitment of leaders and governors. Here at Morgan Hunt, we are seeking to proactively address imbalances in the diversity of leadership at all levels, particularly through the development of anti-racist practices and approaches in recruitment.

For us it's about growing awareness, listening to colleagues and candidates talk about their own experiences and focussing on the key challenges and the work that needs to be done to improve the situation, and crucially taking action.

At Morgan Hunt, we have a big focus on diversity and inclusion.  Anti-racism has been a big part of that, as has our relationship with BFLEG and the training delivered by them. One of the positive actions agreed from it is to break down the standard recruitment process both internally and externally.

We’ve also:

  • Implemented an inclusive recruitment guide to support our clients
  • Built a webinar series, with key speakers, for our clients around diversity with a focus on anti-racism
  • Promoted the value of an anti-racist and inclusive recruitment approach at relevant networking events
  • Promoted the value of inclusive recruitment within our digital marketing
  • Worked with our FE client base to proactively support them develop anti-racist and inclusive recruitment practices in the appointment of senior leaders.

BFELG 10-point plan training programme 

We would encourage anyone who hasn't been through this training to do so. A number of our clients have gone through the same training and its been useful to share what stage of the journey we are at with them and collaborate. The course has been both challenging and eye opening. It’s not right to recommend appropriate solutions to our customers if we don’t go through this process ourselves.

Still work to be done

We’ve still got a long way to go. It's not finished and it's not fixed and there is still a lot to do.  Despite having an ethnically diverse workforce our Senior Leadership team isn’t as diverse as we’d like it so we’re going through a process to improve that.

Making progress #AntiRacismInAction

Anti-racism needs to be at the heart of selection and recruitment within FE. As a group of search and recruitment firms dedicated to supporting the leadership of the sector, we all agree that when recruitment is done well it should enable opportunities for a broad range of people.

Whatever your involvement within FE is, we all want to see a shift in data when it comes to the number of black leaders progressing through the management ranks and into senior leadership posts in the FE sector.

Without systematic monitoring, training or positive action to address the issue, it isn’t surprising that the FE sector has reversed in terms of BAME leadership. But, it all starts at the beginning. Recruitment.

By Luke O’Neill, Education Strategy Director at Morgan Hunt



Developing an inclusive hiring strategy (Webinar)

28 September 2021

On 23rd March 2021 Morgan Hunt hosted a webinar on developing an inclusive hiring strategy. We were joined by Amarjit Singh Basi from the Black FE Leadership Group, Ann Allcock from Marshall E-Learning, and Kira van Niekerk from Thomas International.

The session covered both the importance of having an inclusive hiring strategy, as well as the practical steps to implementing one. Watch the full recording below.


The UK's unexpected job crisis

14 September 2021

During the pandemic the market was such that redundancies and furloughing were high, resulting in fewer jobs and more people unemployed. As the grasps of the pandemic slowly lifted, expectations were that market conditions would return to normal. But to the suprise of many, the situation flipped and we are now experiencing a skills shortage in the UK. 

Job vacancies in Britain are roughly 20 percent higher than before the pandemic. Employers are on the search for people to fill their open positions, and there are still many seeking work, but the jobs don't align with what people are prepared for or want to do. 

The current market conditions were explored further in an article by the New York Times, in which Morgan Hunt's Managing Director, Dan Taylor, provided comment on the situation. When asked about the company's experience as a recruitment agency, he said "This has been a very quick bounce. In six months we went from struggling to find jobs for candidates who are registered with us to a situation where we just can’t find the specific skilled and experienced staff we need". 

Dan Taylor Managing Director of Morgan Hunt

Image from The New York Times. Photographed by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times. 

One example of the difficulties faced by employers is when Morgan Hunt was helping a public housing association hire a senior fire officer. Two people were ready to accept the job, until a department store offered higher pay, causing the candidates to pull out from the senior fire officer position. 


Building inclusive teams for growth (Webinar)

11 March 2021

On 24th February 2021  Morgan Hunt hosted a webinar on the power of  team coaching titled ‘Building inclusive teams for growth’. We were joined by team coaching experts Lucy Widdowson and Paul J Barbour, who shared how team coaching can be used to develop inclusive teams which benefit from increased performance.. Read the summary of the webinar below or watch the full recording at the bottom of this page:

Following the events of 2020, the importance of diversity and inclusion for organisations is being recognised more and more. Organisations are becoming actively engaged in building diverse and inclusive workplaces as a result of demands from staff for greater representation, but also due to the proven benefits for organisations. Benefits include:

  • Winning the battle for talent
  • Improving employee satisfaction
  • Improving the quality of decision making
  • Increasing innovation and customer insight
  • Improving the company’s brand image
  • 33% higher profitability (McKinsey, 2018)

It is clear that, for organisations, there is a lot to be gained, but how can improved diversity and inclusion be achieved? There are several factors that influence the diversity and inclusion of a workplace, but Lucy Widdowson and Paul J Barbour suggest developing more inclusive teams through team coaching is a good place to start.

When we talk about the diversity and inclusivity of teams, what do we mean? Diversity describes how team members are different from each other, improving the range of ideas and perspective brought to the table. Inclusivity, however, describes the style of interaction (the actions and strategies) that help people feel included, which is essential for effective teams and organisations. Diversity improves the variance of ideas, but inclusivity is what enables these thoughts to be shared.

The diversity of teams can be improved through recruitment, whereas inclusivity can only be built through a focus on the interpersonal relationships of teams. In order for team members to feel included, psychological safety and trust must exist within the group. Individuals must believe that the group is a safe place for interpersonal risk taking. Only then can members feel truly comfortable to contribute and share their ideas.

So how can inclusivity be improved? In the team coaching sessions that Lucy and Paul run with organisations throughout the world, they work with teams to develop empathy and to determine the shared purpose, values and beliefs of the group. Empathy leads to understanding and having shared goals ensures the group moves together in the same direction. One exercise they encourage people to use to build empathy is to watch the news, then try to understand a person who has an opposing view to you and think about what you would say to them.

What is team coaching?

“Coaching that helps teams work together, with others and within their wider environment, to create lasting change by developing safe trusting relationships, better ways of working and new thinking, so that they maximise their collective potential, purpose and performance goals”

Building psychological safety and trust can be achieved through a number of team coaching methods and exercises. Through their work, Lucy and Paul have defined 7 characteristics of high performing teams. These are:

  • Purpose – (Why do we do what we do/ who do we serve)
  • Identity – (How do we want to be known)
  • Values & Beliefs – (What do we need to value and believe in to achieve our purpose?)
  • Awareness – (How aware the team is of how they interact with the rest of the business and what the areas of development within the team are)
  • Relatedness – (Psychological safety, building relationships, trust, enabling open and honest conversations)
  • Ways of working – (The processes and rhythm of the team e.g. decision-making effectiveness) 
  • Transformation – (How the team continues to learn, grow and innovate)

For improving inclusivity, Lucy and Paul recommend focussing on the awareness and relatedness. Here are some exercises you can use to maximise these characteristics:

  • Have everyone say something at the beginning of a meeting
  • Practice ‘non-violent communication’ (This means listening beyond what people say to understand people’s needs)
  • Practice conversational turn taking, which increases collective intelligence and team performance
  • Encourage more positive conversations by replacing “but” with “yes, and” to build on people’s ideas rather than shutting them down
  • People are naturally averse to feedback so before challenging someone’s point make sure they feel supported

Paul and Lucy also suggest using scenarios to open honest conversations about how people would respond. Through this people can feel safe to share without judgement, as well as be corrected if their response could be improved. Here are some scenarios for you to use and discuss with your teams:

Scenario 1

Amy in a team meeting uses an incorrect terminology for a colleague in another team saying ‘Jo the blind person’. What do you do?

Scenario 2

Every time Amin makes a suggestion, another team member Tom ignores them and speaks over them. What do you do?

Scenario 3

You have a culture of all going to lunch together when in the office or spending time chatting informally when working virtually at the end of the day on a Friday. Ray doesn’t join in. What do you do?

By applying some of the techniques, you can begin to create more trust within your teams which will improve communication and performance. If you would like to learn more about team coaching and how it can be used to develop high performing teams, Lucy and Paul recently published their first book titled “Building top performing teams”. You can purchase a copy via the links below.

Kogan Page
Purchase through local US & UK book stores