Tips for Leaders: 1. Exit interviews and questionnaires

Jun 22, 2023 | Blogs

Tips for Leaders: 1. Exit interviews and questionnaires

Jun 22, 2023 | Blogs

Employees are a school’s most valuable resource. One of the biggest problems in the teaching profession is the retention of experienced teachers.


The purpose of an exit interview is to find out why staff members are leaving. Exit interviews and questionnaires can highlight problem areas, improve retention, enhance culture and performance and drive school improvement.

The information provided in exit interviews and/or questionnaires will assist senior leaders and the trustees/governing body to review employment procedure and practices. An exit interview is, undoubtedly, for the ultimate benefit of the school as an employer.

There are no legal requirements to have exit interviews or questionnaires and you may decide not to use them. Participation in exit interviews, by those leaving, should always remain voluntary.

If you do decide to go ahead, then remember that the interviews should be conducted in private and be informal in nature. Details of and information from the interview (or questionnaire) should not be used for purposes other than monitoring the school’s performance as a good employer. It is important to have an environment which is conducive to a good exchange of information, including both the strengths and weaknesses of the school’s practice and procedures – honesty is key.

The interview (or questionnaire) should remain confidential, and responses should not be used in any way that is attributable to particular members of staff.

Examples of questions you may wish to ask include:

  • What are the main reasons for leaving?
  • Were the main duties of your role clearly defined?
  • What did you enjoy most about your role?
  • Which areas, if any, did you dislike and why?
  • Were your skills fully utilised? If not, what might have been the reason for this?
  • What were the relationships like with your colleagues/line managers/senior leaders/governors?
  • Do you have any suggestions as to how your job could be improved?
  • What do you think are the main priorities where the school could improve?
  • How would you describe your training opportunities and professional development?
  • How would you describe your career progression?
  • Would you recommend this school as a place of work to others? If not, why not?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list and there may be other questions more pertinent to your particular setting and circumstances.

It is important that there is a consistent approach to the conducting of exit interviews (or questionnaires) and the use of the information provided.

Exit interviews apply to all school staff who leave voluntarily and should not be used for staff who are dismissed on capability or disciplinary grounds or those who are leaving due to redundancy, ill health or retirement.

Did you know Schoolaspect provides a model exit interview and questionnaire template for senior leaders, which can also be customised to your school’s requirements? 

This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer. 

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