New research into teacher recruitment and retention

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has announced the awardees of the ESRC Education Research Programme. 

The awardees will explore new approaches to attracting and developing teachers, and the use of technology in teaching and learning.

A total of nine projects will be supported by a £5.3 million fund to gather evidence that will inform policymaking and education practice to lead to better outcomes for children and their families.

Projects will be led by a range of research institutions working in partnership with diverse stakeholder groups across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

One of the primary focusses of the programme is the changing role of technology in teaching and learning.

This research will build on previous ESRC investments into the impact of digital working by applying current thinking about digitisation of the workplace to the content of education providers.

By rethinking the approach to teaching in a post-lockdown, more digitally connected world, the progamme aims to inform new, more impactful ways of teaching which better integrate technology into the classroom.

Another important focus will be understanding how to improve teacher education, recruitment and retention. 

These projects will address issues that not only challenge the teacher workforce but which have a significant impact on the UK skills pipeline and the economic resources of the future.

The funded projects will achieve these aims by researching a wide range of contemporary topics in education, including:

  • approaches to improving the recruitment, retention, education and development of specific groups, including ethnic minority teachers and school leaders
  • the use of technology in schools and how it can reinforce or reconfigure existing educational and social inequities
  • the role of digital and innovative technologies in recruiting STEM undergraduates into teacher education and in improving foreign language teachers’ knowledge, skills, and confidence
  • digital citizenship and data ethics challenges in the classroom
  • children’s participation rights in teaching practice to inform teachers’ professional development

The program is designed to support partnership working between reproachers, practitioners and policymakers in different parts of the UK, developing lasting networks that can identify and promote key strategic aims for future education research.

Professor Gemma Moss, director of the ESRC education research programme, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the education research community to work in partnership with other stakeholders and find new ways of tackling some long-lasting challenges in school-based education. 

“The programme recognises the devolved nature of education in the UK and in this context is looking to develop stronger links between research, policy and practice that can generate new insights relevant to local contexts.” 

Professor Alison Park, interim executive chair of the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “Through the Education Research Programme, ESRC is funding important new research that will generate insights and help address ongoing challenges for the UK’s compulsory education systems, including how to attract, educate and retain excellent teachers, and how to adopt and harness the benefits of new technologies. 

“The programme will support both teachers and children by tackling issues such as resilience, participation, recruitment, training and retention. 

“The research will use the power of social science to generate a range of exciting outputs that have the potential to directly transform UK education and create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.”

The research begins in early December and projects will run for up to three years.

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