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Reviewing the evidence base on school leadership, culture, climate and structure for teacher retention

Nguyen, Dong; See, Beng Huat; Brown, Chris; Kokotsaki, Dimitra


Chris Brown


Teacher retention has been a persistent challenge internationally and in England. Failure to recruit and retain qualified teachers may result in teacher shortage that has a negative effect on student learning. This issue is exacerbated in challenging schools with high proportions of disadvantaged students. Addressing this issue requires the collective efforts of policy and practice, well informed by a systematic, in-depth understanding of the robust research evidence base. The organisational characteristics, such as leadership, culture, climate, and structure, are critical in influencing teacher retention. However, we lacked a systematic exploration of the extant evidence base on these characteristics to enable such an understanding. We conducted a rapid review of the evidence base to identify the characteristics of school leadership, culture, climate, and structure that potentially support teacher retention.

This rapid evidence assessment shortlisted and appraised 399 relevant research outputs, published between January 2000 and May 2023. This total number of 399 outputs comprises 387 outputs of empirical research and 12 of previous reviews. These 387 outputs are based on analyses of the data collected in more than 60 countries. The key, substantive findings, presented in the current report, are mainly based on a synthesis of 89 empirical research publications that meet this review’s quality assessment. Collectively these 89 publications form the core evidence base, which the current report draws on.

The evidence base highlights three interrelated leadership approaches and their associated practices to support teacher retention: (i) prioritising teacher development; (ii) building relational trust; and (iii) improving working conditions. The review also underscores four prominent characteristics of school culture, climate, and structure that promote collegiality, positive school discipline, intellectual stimulation, and equity in workload arrangements and support distribution.

The current report, based on this evidence base, calls for concerted efforts to support quality professional development for school leaders to enact those potential leadership approaches and practices and to creatively contextualise configurations of workload in their schools, to motivate and retain teachers. It recommends robust design and delivery of longitudinal and experimental studies to measure impacts of these efforts to inform timely actions.


Nguyen, D., See, B. H., Brown, C., & Kokotsaki, D. (2023). Reviewing the evidence base on school leadership, culture, climate and structure for teacher retention. Education Edowment Foundation

Report Type Research Report
Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2023
Publication Date Nov 1, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2023
Public URL