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Why Teacher Buy-In Matters for Retention

Why Teacher "Buy-In" Matters for Retention

A newly published research paper has suggested a link between teacher retention and buy-in to a school's strategy. 

Teacher retention is a crucial issue facing many schools today. With up to a third of newly trained teachers leaving the profession within 5 years, schools are struggling to hold onto talented staff. New research suggests that whether teachers "buy into" their school's strategy could be one of the most important factors driving retention.

The study analyzed survey data from over 2800 teachers working in 82 English schools. It focused on the relationship between teacher retention intentions and their "buy-in" - essentially, whether they believe in and support the strategic direction their school leadership has set.

The results clearly showed teacher buy-in has the strongest association with intentions to continue working at the school, even more so than relationships with colleagues, workload satisfaction, or pay. For every standard deviation increase in teacher buy-in, there was a 0.26 standard deviation rise in the likelihood they would stay at the school when offered another job.

There were further findings for school leaders. Around 70% of teachers who disagreed that their school has an effective strategy also felt unable to voice contrary opinions without negative consequences. This suggests that those running schools may not be hearing concerns and dissenting perspectives from demotivated staff.

So what's the takeaway for principals and policymakers? Investing time and effort to genuinely convince teachers that the school's strategic plans will drive improvement appears pivotal for retention. Teachers need to feel empowered to speak openly when they disagree with leadership direction. Failure on either front could push even the most talented teachers towards the exit door.

The research highlights why school leadership matters when making retention decisions. While workload, relationships and pay all play a role, feeling aligned to overarching strategy could be even more crucial for keeping teachers intellectually and emotionally invested in their schools.

Here is a summary of the key points from the research paper:


Explores an important issue - teacher retention and how "buy-in" to school strategy relates to teachers' intentions to stay at their school. Retaining good teachers is vital for schools.

Uses a large dataset of over 2,800 teachers from 82 English schools to quantitatively analyze the research questions.

Finds teacher "buy-in" has the strongest association with intentions to stay out of the factors explored, including relationships, workload, and pay. Each SD increase in buy-in relates to a 0.26 SD increase in likelihood of staying.

Suggests school leaders need to focus efforts on gaining genuine buy-in from staff to retain good teachers. Open communication is important when teachers don't buy into strategies.



Measures intentions to stay rather than actual retention. Intentions don't always align with actions.

Relies on teachers self-reporting their intentions and buy-in rather than objective measures.

Buy-in measure used focuses only on the "belief" aspect of buy-in based on the conceptual model. Does not capture other components like motivation and commitment to action.