‘Stay Interviews’


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Does your employer seek ways to want you to ‘stay’ working at your current school?

A stay interview gives organisations the opportunity to assess what improvements can be made now to avoid further resignations … (CIPD)

A genuine attempt at managing wellbeing …

One of the biggest problems we all face across the teaching profession is the retention of experienced teachers.

Today, I revisited the Department for Education’s wellbeing charter: “…a declaration of support for, and set of commitments to, the wellbeing and mental health of everyone working in education.”

Alongside the charter and the summary of promises a school can make, I was keen to learn how schools can make a genuine attempt to support all staff and avoid meaningless tick-box exercises.

In a recent conversation with Mark Solomons, founder of Welbee – a tool that allows schools to systematically track and monitor the progress of staff wellbeing and culture – Mark and I discussed how schools can work towards meeting all 11 recommendations in the charter and where a school could focus its efforts. In our discussion (see video below), Mark mentioned the notion of ‘stay interviews’, a term I had not come across before.

Does your school have a teacher wellbeing policy?

Some schools don’t have the basics in place. If your school does not have a wellbeing policy, it can be tricky to know where to start. If that is you, get in touch and leave a comment below or email me privately.

I’ve been fortunate to lead whole-school workload and well-being initiatives in my leadership career. I organised ‘exit interviews‘ and wellbeing schemes. I reviewed progress against the Teacher Development Trust’s CPD framework and the internationally renowned Investors in People, I thought I had a good understanding of all the things a school could do. However, there is always something else a leader or a school can explore. As Mark said:

It’s about giving leaders the tools and resources they need to support the wellbeing of those they line manage. This is one of the first building blocks for developing sustained wellbeing…

Structured discussion, outside of line management …

Stay interviews are about having a structured discussion with teachers to help schools unpick any issues that might be holding back performance. Ideally completed on a regular basis long before any ‘exit interview’ takes place that may throw up any unknown surprises.

I suspect high-performing HR teams will be familiar with this process, but I fear it won’t be commonplace across many schools. Whilst we may be aware of how to lead structured discussions during line management and appraisal, the notion of a ‘stay interview’ taking place outside of an ‘already established’ forum where staff can share their views, will be quite rare in busy school environments.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Stay Interviews should:

  1. Be no longer than 20 minutes
  2. Conducted 2 or 3 times a year
  3. Consider what employees ‘look forward to’ and ‘what they dread’ about work
  4. If they would recommend the company (or not)
  5. What keeps them working at the company.

As with all these types of processes, it’s important that people taking part can see small changes as a result of their conversations, and that the person conducting the conversation is selected very carefully, ideally not from my line management position. Finally, all the answers – the good and the ugly – are treated in good faith and in confidence. Only then will well-intentioned schools and college organisations become genuinely high-performing!

I’ll have a think about what a template could look like and publish something in due course.

Organisations that decide to conduct stay interviews should remember that their workforce will expect an outcome, so be prepared to implement positive changes.


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