Written by Sorcha Coyle, Founder, Empowering Expat Teachers
A report by COBIS reveals that there are currently 554,000 expat teachers worldwide, with a predicted need for 180,000 additional teachers in British international schools over the next decade. The study also finds that 91% of school leaders find recruiting quality teachers challenging, while only 19% consistently meet their expectations in the recruitment process.
Moreover, fewer students are enrolling in teacher training courses in the UK, exacerbating the issue. The Teacher Wellbeing Index 2021 highlights that 54% of staff have considered leaving the profession due to mental health and well-being pressures. These factors signal a looming global teacher shortage and recruitment crisis.
In the face of this challenge, 32% of teachers prioritize safe, healthy, and sustainable working conditions when considering joining a new school, while 23% value professional development and career growth opportunities (Teach Away Report 2023). However, the 2022 Tes International Wellbeing Survey finds that only 31% of respondents receive desired professional development opportunities at their international school, and 67% seek improvements in their well-being strategies.
International schools are striving to address the recruitment challenge by emphasizing staff well-being, promoting a positive work culture, and offering opportunities for career development. However, despite these efforts, the Teach Away Report 2023 shows that 56% of teachers currently abroad are unsure or not renewing their contracts at their current international school. Additionally, the 2022 Tes International Wellbeing Survey reveals that only 49% of teachers would recommend their school as a workplace to their friends.
In a poll conducted by the Empowering Expat Teachers with Sorcha Coyle Facebook community, the top three areas that expat teachers prioritize for well-being support are stress management and resilience building (22%), a school culture of growth (20%), and financial well-being/money coaching (13%).
To address these concerns and retain teachers effectively, senior and middle leaders should think creatively. Some suggestions include:
- Establishing a staff room library with inspirational books covering various dimensions of well-being.
- Identifying staff strengths and passions to provide opportunities for professional growth and development.
- Ensuring line managers support teachers’ career trajectories and aspirations.
- Implementing efficient communication strategies to minimize stress.
- Organizing tailored workshops led by experts to improve various aspects of teacher well-being.
Investing in teacher well-being is essential, as workplace stress leads to absenteeism, staff turnover, and physical health issues. Additionally, it has financial implications, with the cost of replacing an employee reaching up to 33% of their salary, and 75% of employee turnover being preventable. Prioritizing teacher well-being not only enhances staff satisfaction but also contributes to a stable and thriving educational environment.