Why schools should plan for the exit of their teachers - their key resource.

I wonder how many schools are paying attention to the age profile of their teachers - their key human resource that schools depend on? Are you aware that many of your talented, experienced teachers are close to retirement or have intentions of leaving the teaching profession?

Impact of the loss of experienced teachers

Schools can no longer allow their human resource management to be an ad hoc arrangement. On the SA Breaking News website it was reported in 2013 that 41% of the current teachers will be retiring in the next 15 years. This pre-retirement group includes principals, deputy principals, heads of department and highly skilled, knowledgeable, experienced teachers. Read the news article here but have a cup of strong coffee handy if you are the Head of a school. If schools do not take these statistics seriously and start prioritizing their human resources management strategy, they are going to suffer badly.

Teachers are a scarce resource.

Teachers are becoming a scarce resource. In South Africa we have about 14,000 teachers leaving the profession annually for multiple reasons, including retirement. When these teachers exit, they take with them their experience, skills and knowledge. They also leave with their rich institutional memory or culture. The loss of this basket of skills and knowledge can cripple a school. 

Also, the newcomers who have to build up their repertoire of competencies and assimilate the culture of the school are in the main, vulnerable. They have limited access to experienced mentors on the staff and they will invariably, take longer to acclimatize to both the teaching demands and other organizational responsibilities. Essentially, everybody loses: the school, the children and the broader community.

At one primary school, four Foundation phase teachers, including the head of the Foundation phase, retired at the same time about two years ago. Collectively, these four teachers had amassed 120 years teaching experience. Needless to say, the school is still struggling to find their rhythm in the Foundation phase. Although new recruits are a blessing, these young teachers are taking heavy strain as they navigate their unfamiliar spaces without much guidance on the ground.  

Poor human resource management reflects poor organizational planning

This is what happens when schools neglect to manage their human resources strategically. They see the problem after much damage has been done. Schools should see their human resource or people management as part of their organizational planning. You cannot do effective short and long term planning if you do not factor in the profile of your workforce. Everything at school revolves around your staff who bring their talents, skills, knowledge and experience to the party.  Overlook your human resource strategy and you set yourself up for disaster in the long run.

Now it is your turn to add to this conversation...

Are you taking stock of your teacher profile at your school?  Let's start this important conversation.


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