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What works in attracting and retaining teachers in challenging schools and areas?

See, Beng Huat; Morris, Rebecca; Gorard, Stephen; El Soufi, Nada

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Rebecca Morris

Nada El Soufi


This paper describes a systematic review of international research evidence identifying the most promising approaches to attracting and retaining teachers in hard-to-staff areas. Only empirical studies that employed a causal or suitable comparative design and had robust measurements of recruitment and retention outcomes were considered. Studies were assessed for strength of evidence taking into account threats to trustworthiness which may bias the results. A search of 13 electronic databases and Google/Google scholar identified 20 distinct research reports that met the inclusion criteria. Financial incentives was the only approach that seemsto work in attracting teachers to challenging schools, but not effective in retaining them. To keep teachers working in challenging schools a supportive and conducive working environment would be needed. Other approaches such as mentoring, support, or teacher development do not have strong evidence of effectiveness, largely because much of the research on these approaches was weak. More robust research capable of addressing causal questions is therefore urgently required to determine their impact in attracting and retaining good teachers in areas where they are most needed. Long-term solution would be to change school-allocation policies and improve economic conditions in such areas so that the problem of staffing does not arise.


See, B. H., Morris, R., Gorard, S., & El Soufi, N. (2020). What works in attracting and retaining teachers in challenging schools and areas?. Oxford Review of Education, 46(6), 678-697.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2020
Publication Date Nov 1, 2020
Deposit Date May 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 6, 2020
Journal Oxford Review of Education
Print ISSN 0305-4985
Electronic ISSN 1465-3915
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 6
Pages 678-697
Publisher URL https:/


Published Journal Article (Advance online version.) (598 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Advance online version. © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly

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