Investing in teacher training is more cost effective than recruitment

A new report released by Pro Bono Economics (PBE) for education charity, the PTI, reveals that it would be more cost effective for the government to invest more money in high-quality professional development for existing teachers than spending on recruiting and training additional teachers into the profession.  

The PBE report argues that the additional cost of embedding 35-hours of high-quality professional development a year for all teachers would likely be offset by improved retention rates. Existing research confirms that this additional training could result in an increase in retention rate of 2%, equivalent to approximately 12,000 teachers per year.  

This would go a long way towards solving the teacher supply crunch currently facing the education sector.   

As well as needing to replace the 15,000-20,000 teachers that leave the profession each year, 11,000 additional teachers are needed in the secondary sector over the next three years to deal with an extra 160,000 pupils who will enter into state funded secondary schools.  

High quality professional development has been proven to deliver other benefits too. Teachers develop their personal and professional skill set, grow their subject knowledge and expertise, and it encourages them to become more effective and enthusiastic leaders.  

The National Association of Head Teachers state that high-quality Continuing Professional Development (CPD) can improve teachers’ wellbeing and encourages more experienced teachers to remain in the profession. This provides a more stable learning environment for teachers and boosts learning outcomes for pupils. The report states that “While the definition of high-quality CPD is still subject to debate, there seems little doubt that both the quantity and quality of CPD provision in England could be significantly improved.” 

Professional development also provides long-term benefits for the labour market.  

Research from the Education Policy Institute suggested that embedding 35 hours of CPD for teachers could increase the lifetime earnings of the average student by around £2,300. The research suggest society can Profit from this investment, because when applied across the country for a 10-year period the benefits were estimated to be nineteen times higher than the £4bn total cost of the policy. 

Chris Pope, co-director of the PTI, said: “We know from the teachers we work with that good professional development not only inspires them to become more inspiring teachers, but also encourages them to remain in the profession despite all the challenges they face.  

“The Pro Bono Economics report provides financial justification for our work, and a strong argument that schools and government should be investing more in teachers’ professional development. Good CPD benefits teachers and students, and this report confirms that it makes economic sense too”. 

Jon Franklin, chief economist at PBE, said: “The education sector in England is facing a teacher supply crisis that has not been helped by the added pressures exerted on teachers and pupils by the pandemic. Consistent annual shortfalls in secondary school teacher recruitment over the last decade mean the gaps are too large for the sector to recruit its way out of this problem.  

“There needs to be greater focus on retaining the thousands of teachers that leave the profession each year. Continuing professional development is a key tool for helping to keep teachers in the classroom.  

“Our analysis suggests that increasing the provision of CPD for teachers would prove cost-effective for the government, with the benefits from retaining teachers outweighing costs within two to three years.” 

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