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How Your Estate can Support Staff Recruitment and Retention

With ongoing challenges in the education sector, including significant recruitment problems, schools are constantly looking for ways to attract and retain talented teachers. While increasing salaries or offering more flexible working hours might not always be viable options, improving the school estate offers an opportunity to positively impact the day-to-day happiness and overall satisfaction of staff members. 

Working with education property consultants to enhance the working environment can have long-term benefits. From condition surveys to securing funding and project management, consultants can provide comprehensive support to make your estate a more desirable place to work. In this article, we explore how the physical environment can support staff recruitment and retention in more detail.


The Recruitment Challenge in Education

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) produces an annual report about the progress the education system is making towards meeting the teacher supply challenge. The 2024 Teacher Labour Market in England Annual Report has highlighted the critical state of the education sector. It emphasises a substantial risk to the quality of education, with recruitment to both primary and secondary Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in 2023/24 falling below the number estimated by the Department for Education (DfE) to meet future staffing needs. 

This shortfall of new teachers shows that recruitment continues to be a significant challenge for schools throughout England and unfortunately, it’s likely to only get worse without significant action. To continue providing a good learning experience, schools need to adopt alternative strategies to attract and retain qualified teachers. Thinking outside the box is more important than ever before to meet staffing requirements across estates. 


How the Estate can Impact Recruitment and Retention

In today’s difficult landscape, the importance of a welcoming estate cannot be overstated. The physical environment of a school goes beyond aesthetics, it fundamentally impacts the daily experiences and overall job satisfaction of teachers. The Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) findings highlight the challenges facing workplaces, including the physical environment. It finds associations between the different dimensions of job quality and offers guidance on how to improve a broad range of issues in the workplace.

A thoughtfully designed and well-maintained environment can enhance the work experience for teachers, making a big difference in recruitment and retention rates. Not to mention, a looked-after estate is a tangible representation of the school’s values and commitment to employee wellbeing.


Creating Staff-Friendly Schools

Differentiating your school from others in the local area is essential when everyone is experiencing the same problems with staffing levels. Here are some strategic ways to leverage your estate when trying to attract new teachers; 


Modern Learning Spaces

In addition to creating health and safety issues, poorly maintained buildings can influence teacher retention. Creating modern learning environments that support various teaching styles and educational needs can make teaching more enjoyable. Not to mention, the physical environment can support learning outcomes and well-designed classrooms can boost learning progress in students. Modern classrooms encourage innovation and creativity, making teachers feel valued, heard and invested in. By renovating outdated learning spaces, schools can invest in new pedagogical trends and technologies, ensuring teaching methods can remain dynamic and engaging for both students and teachers.


Sanctuary Spaces

Teaching can be noisy, stressful and demanding. Incorporating ‘sanctuary spaces’ that promote staff wellbeing, such as personal workspaces and quiet zones, can have a positive impact on morale and retention. These initiatives are a way to show teachers that you prioritise their health and happiness, contributing to a positive work culture. Wellbeing-focused improvements can help to reduce employee stress and burnout too, leading to a more productive educational environment.


When asked about their working environment, the quality of toilet provision is always at the top of the list of issues raised by staff working in schools. It can be easy to overlook, but these facilities are used regularly by teachers and can have a direct impact on their day-to-day job satisfaction. Providing adequate, private, clean and modern facilities is critical in attracting and retaining the best people in your school. 


Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness

Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability through eco-friendly practices and green spaces benefits the planet as well as appeals to teachers who value environmental responsibility. Schools that embrace sustainability can create a sense of community and shared purpose among staff too. Some eco-friendly strategies, like Solar panels, LED lighting, green spaces and EV charging points, can also directly impact the day-to-day lives of teachers.


Technology Integration

Ensuring the estate is equipped with the latest technology can streamline administrative tasks and enrich the learning experience. This makes a school an attractive place for modern teachers and supports efficient, innovative teaching methods. The integration of technology doesn’t just improve the working lives of teachers but also allows them to better meet the individual needs of their students.


Collaborative Spaces

Spaces designed to encourage collaboration among staff can enhance the sense of belonging within a school. These spaces provide opportunities for employees to connect, collaborate and share experiences, strengthening working relationships. Creating an environment that values open communication and teamwork enhances the overall school culture, making it a more attractive workplace for current and prospective employees.

A strategic approach to the development and management of the school estate plays a crucial role in addressing the recruitment and retention challenges facing the education sector today. By focusing on areas that can benefit your teachers most, you can create a work environment that not only attracts but also retains the best educators. 

Working With Education Property Consultants to Improve Estates 

Enlisting the help of education property consultants like Barker is a strategic move for schools wanting to improve their physical environment and, in turn, their recruitment efforts. By providing a complete range of services, these specialists can assess your current estate and recommend tailored solutions that will help you create inspiring spaces to work. By considering your educational objectives and staff requirements, as well as the funding opportunities available, education property consultants can develop a plan to improve your estate.

With our experience in developing modern, eco-friendly and technologically advanced educational spaces, the team at Barker can help your estate become more appealing to teachers and support staff. We can support you through the whole process, from strategy to delivery and beyond, with a focus on practical solutions. Our collaborative approach to improving school estates significantly contributes to creating a positive work environment where staff and students thrive.


Using Your Estate to Enhance Recruitment and Retention 

While the challenges of teacher recruitment in the education sector are significant, improving the estate can be an effective way to address these issues, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, by investing in the physical environment, schools can attract new teachers and retain their valued staff members which costs less and improves outcomes in the long term.

As leading education property consultants in the UK, our team at Barker is here to help you transform your estate to benefit both staff and students. We can offer impartial, expert advice and recommend comprehensive solutions that meet your specific needs. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help in more detail.

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