CPD: The Ultimate Tool for Teacher Recruitment and Retention

by John Woodberry

The Grey Rhino on the Horizon

The international education sector is on the brink of a significant recruitment crisis. According to ISC Research, the demand for international school teachers is set to rise dramatically. By 2028, up to 158,400 additional teachers will be needed to meet the sector’s growth. This is set against fewer people entering the profession (UK Teacher Training: Only 13,102 out of the targeted 26,360 have registered for secondary teacher training.) If we are to mitigate these problems, everyone in International Education should be determined to raise standards and make their schools beacons of excellence.

(COBIS 2022)

The Fallacy of Experience over Expertise

We speak with hundreds of teachers and leaders yearly who want to improve their educational expertise. Many share their CVs, showcasing 4-5 schools and over 10 years of experience. While they have plenty of experience, their expertise often needs to be improved. Despite receiving hundreds of hours of CPD, most still need a solid foundation to deliver high-impact teaching and learning. Even the most experienced teachers struggle to provide quality education without a robust foundation in teaching principles.

CPD: A Sector-Wide Approach

We need to make International Teaching and Leadership more attractive to avoid the doomsday recruitment scenario predicted. Providing continuous CPD that enables everyone to grow and be better prepared for future opportunities is essential. By improving all teachers and leaders, we elevate the entire educational community, ensuring everyone rises to a higher level. CPD should not be a zero-sum game but an altruistic offer to the international community. 

Recruitment Benefits

Here are some of the headline figures from 2022 (COBIS, 2022):

  • 91% of international school leaders find recruiting quality teachers ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’. 
  • 43% of incoming teachers were thinking about leaving the profession before taking up an international job.
  • 66% of senior leaders have enhanced staff CPD initiatives to improve teacher retention
  • For every £1 invested in CPD, the return is between £3 and £9 in economic social benefits. (Maxwell et al, 2018)

Attracting Talent

International educators seek schools where they can grow professionally. Schools with strong CPD programs attract ambitious teachers from around the world. This should be a budget that they can draw upon and use when it suits them. 

Staying Competitive

Many international schools offer high-quality CPD. Without it, you risk losing potential hires to institutions that invest more heavily in their staff’s growth.

Retention Benefits

  • Job Satisfaction

Continuous learning makes teachers and leaders feel valued. This boosts job satisfaction and loyalty, especially in diverse and dynamic international school settings. With increasing demand for local hire staff, there needs to be a coherent programme similar to the ECT (Early Career Teacher) Pathway in the UK. 

  • Career Progression

CPD helps teachers and leaders advance in their careers. Schools that support this are more likely to retain their staff long-term, providing stability and consistency in the learning environment. When they decide to leave, they will be a goodwill ambassador for your school for life. 

  • Improving Skills

Better training leads to better teaching and leadership. Those who see their skills improve are more likely to stay, benefiting the entire school community.


Investing in CPD is not just about individual growth but about safeguarding the future of international education. With the looming recruitment crisis, it is essential that we prioritise continuous professional development to attract, retain, and elevate talented educators. Providing robust CPD programs ensures that teachers and leaders feel valued and equipped to deliver high-impact education. This collective effort will raise the standards across the sector, making international schools beacons of excellence. 

Effective CPD is the cornerstone of a thriving international community, fostering job satisfaction, career progression, and improved skills, all of which contribute to the stability and success of our schools. Let’s commit to making CPD the ultimate tool for teacher recruitment and retention, ensuring a bright future for international education.


  • Council of British International Schools (COBIS), 2022. Teacher Supply in British International Schools 2022. Available at: https://www.cobis.org.uk/about-us/research/teacher-supply-in-british-international-schools
  • Maxwell, B., Clague, L., Byrne, E., Culliney, M., Coldwell, M., Hobson, A. and Glentworth, A. (2018) Retain: CPD for Early Career Teachers of KS1. Education Endowment Foundation. Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/evaluations/retain-cpd-for-early-career-teachers-of-ks1
  • Van den Brande, J. and Zuccollo, J. (2021) The effects of high-quality professional development on teachers and students: A cost-benefit analysis. Available at: https://epi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/EPI-CPD-entitlement-cost-benefit-analysis.2021.pdf

John Woodberry is the Co-Founder of Red Dragon Education, Shanghai, China

To connect with John on LinkedIn, click here

LYIS is proud to partner with TIC Recruitment

1 thought on “<strong>CPD: The Ultimate Tool for Teacher Recruitment and Retention</strong>”

  1. Great read! Schools that prioritise CPD will really attract and retain top talent, ensuring high standards and stability in the sector.
    How can international schools better integrate CPD programs to ensure they effectively address the recruitment and retention challenges?

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