Recruitment and retention crisis: DfE outlines new initiatives

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

The Department for Education (DfE) is to pilot a student loan reimbursement scheme for science and language teachers in the early stages of their careers in a bid to tackle the recruitment crisis in schools.

The programme will support around 800 modern foreign language teachers and 1,700 science teachers a year.

It would mean that a typical teacher in their fifth year of work would receive a reimbursement of around £540. This figure would increase for teachers with additional responsibilities.

It comes after the government unveiled a general rise in the earning threshold for student loan repayments from £21,000 to £25,000.

In addition, the DfE has also unveiled a second pilot for new bursaries in maths. These will offer upfront payments of £20,000 and “early retention” payments of £5,000 in the third and fifth year of a teacher’s career.

Increased amounts of £7,500 will be offered to encourage maths teachers to take on more challenging schools.

It comes as the current recruitment crisis in schools continues. In June, the annual Languages Trends report warned that the recruitment of more suitably qualified languages teachers was “likely to become more critical” in light of need to increase take-up at GCSE because of the Progress 8 and EBacc performance measures.

The same report said that schools were finding it “challenging” to recruit teachers able to offer two languages to GCSE and A level standard.

The report states: “This difficulty most affects lower-attaining schools and those working in more disadvantaged circumstances.”

Recent research as part of the NFER’s Teacher Retention and Turnover Research project has also shown particularly high leaving rates for teachers of maths, science and languages.

Meanwhile, the DfE’s own figures from June this year show a rise in the number of teacher vacancies and temporarily filled posts as well as a 2,700 drop in the number of full-time teachers working in secondary schools. In 2015 there were 210,900 but this has now fallen to 208,200.

And in September, a National Audit Office (NAO) report warned that the number of secondary school teachers has fallen by almost 11,000 between 2010 and 2016 – around five per cent of the workforce.

The NAO said that the increasing numbers of teachers who are quitting was at the core of the problem – in 2016, 34,910 teachers left for reasons other than retirement. At the same time, pupil numbers are set to increase by 540,000 (almost 20 per cent) between now and 2025.

Elsewhere, education secretary Justine Greening has promised £30 million to support “schools that struggle most with recruitment and retention”. This could go to support CPD, the DfE has said.

Ms Greening has also outlined £12 million for a new national network of English hubs “with a specific focus on improving early language and literacy” and £6 million for further investment in the already established Maths Hubs.

There are also to be 27 new initiatives to promote degree-level Apprenticeships and increase take-up of this pathway.


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