Ten things we learnt from the TEP pilot

In a challenging education landscape, TEP has been founded to support schools to build sustainable working cultures and improve pupil outcomes.  Routed in research and designed by former teachers and academics the TEP platform gives schools  with actionable data and insights on the engagement and motivation of their teams.

TEP has been developed off the back of an 18-month pilot to thoroughly test and refine our methodology and shape the interface to best serve the needs of school leaders. Engagement from schools was beyond our wildest expectations and we are so grateful for our pilot cohort for their valuable feedback and guidance. As we enter our foundation year, we’ll be continuing to build insights that support school level interpretation.

If you are interested in gathering employee engagement insights for your school or trust drop us a line at

As our national dataset continues to grow, here are 10 of our initial learnings from the pilot:

1. Leadership matters – leadership and management engagement drivers are most strongly associated with high school staff engagement, above drivers such as workload, recognition and reward and resourcing. While not unimportant drivers of staff experience, the pilot demonstrated the profound impact that effective leadership can have above all else. See our blog from June 2023 for more information on this insight.

2. Belief in your leadership strategy is crucial
Within the Leadership engagement driver, your team’s belief in your strategy matters most. It’s worth the time investment to communicate your strategy well to your team and build buy in for the long-term vision of your school. In Professor John Jerrim’s latest paper using TEP pilot data school staff’s belief in the leadership team’s strategy is one of the most important factors affecting the intention to stay at the school.

3. Regular, consistent feedback cycles provide the most actionable data.  
At TEP we are moving away from the single end of year feedback survey. School staff feedback along with robust benchmarks can support leadership teams throughout the academic year. TEP data is collected via national census windows gives us the most robust benchmarks and provide a consistent cycle of feedback. Our benchmarks are sensitive to system level events that could impact the data.

4. Senior leaders are consistently reporting highest engagement.
Leaders are more engaged than middle leaders and class teachers. This shows us why we need to listen to those in the classroom even more, their experiences might be different, and their feedback provides crucial direction to leadership teams wanting to improve engagement.

5. Robust benchmarking supports meaningful action.
A high score on its own doesn’t tell you anything if you can’t contextualise that with how others responded to the same question. Surveys without benchmarks can lead to rogue decision-making. In this example school, while their workload score is the lowest based on raw ranking, this is the engagement driver where they are beating the benchmark most significantly. Leaders in this school, are likely making good progress with current resourcing to reduce staff workload. Whereas spending time on classroom behaviour to close the gap between them and the benchmark would be an effective use of leadership time and effort.  

6. Primary staff are more engaged than Secondary staff
Throughout the pilot, Primary schools, on average, had higher school staff engagement than Secondary schools. We also saw a greater range of engagement scores across secondary compared to Primary.

7. Net scoring is essential to good data interpretation.
We need a scoring method that is easy to interpret but identifies the nuances in school cultures. Mean scores don’t tell you enough about the underlying texture. Our APC scoring methodology is designed to do just that. Two similar schools based on mean score – large difference in net score and distribution. Leadership team strategy for School A is likely to be quite different from School B, where they have a significant number of staff in the challenger category (bottom third scorers nationally).

8. Every school has areas to celebrate and areas for development.
There is large variation within schools – this school with relatively high engagement compared to national benchmark could still identify challenger groups. Data breakdowns can reveal if challengers are typically in a specific career stage, department or demographic and create more targeted action plans.

9. Teachers love teaching regardless of their work environment.
We see the smallest variation in factors such as teacher self-determination, and attitudes towards teaching. Engagement is most affected by drivers that are closely linked to their ability to get on with their job, which is where we see the greatest variation in scores nationally, such as behaviour, leadership and management, resourcing, and workload.

10. Best practice can be found for the sectors stickiest challenges.
While workload scores lowest nationally – there are schools consistently beating the benchmarks by a good margin, term after term. We are building a bank of best practice backed by TEP data to share with the TEP school community to support action planning and find the right solutions for schools.

Where next:

  • We have launched a digital platform to easily collect, monitor and report on TEP data. Utilising our heavily tested question set and scoring methodology, school leaders can have access to regular data to support decision making and prioritisation throughout the school year with minimal administration. Book a call with Steph for a tour.  
  • We will be regularly releasing exclusive research insights following our national census windows, subscribe here to stay in the loop.  
  • Our research unit will be exploring TEP data and links to retention behaviour and pupil outcomes – stay tuned for the latest insights.  

Get involved:  

Want to understand how your school compares to the TEP benchmarks? Sign up before end of November to take part in the Spring census window and see how your school compares. Enquire here to get the ball rolling.  

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