Teachers in the early stages of their careers are to be given a salary boost of up to £3,000 tax-free to teach maths, physics, chemistry and computing in schools serving disadvantaged areas.
Boris Johnson announced the £60m measure in his speech at last week’s Conservative party conference.
The package will be available to eligible STEM teachers in the first five years of their careers, and follows international research indicating that a 10% pay increase for early-career teachers of shortage subjects could lead to a 30% reduction in the number leaving the profession.
“We know that more than one in 10 teachers from the most disadvantaged secondary schools leave to teach in other schools and we are determined to correct that by ensuring a competitive financial offer for teachers to drive up quality,” said the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi.
“Our new levelling up premiums of up to £3,000 per teacher will support the recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in shortage subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most.”
While the measure has been broadly welcomed, it also represents a second U-turn in government policy on the issue within the space of a year.
An early-career payments was introduced in 2018-19 to encourage teachers in shortage subjects to stay in the profession after qualifying, before the DfE announced in October last year that it would be scrapped.
We would hope that the government will also be prepared to wrestle with some of the more fundamental problems that are causing teachers and leaders to leave the profession – Paul Whiteman, NAHT
“The government adopted our recommendations in 2019 when it originally introduced the policy, only to scrap it in 2020 – a decision which was very short-sighted given the precarious position of the teacher labour market at the time,” said Natalie Perera, CEO of the Education Policy Institute.
“While the prime minister’s announcement is encouraging, we await further details on how the policy will be targeted, as this will be crucial to its success.”
In related news, the education secretary pledged last week that the government would honour a manifesto commitment to increase teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000, telling BBC Breakfast: “I’m in the middle of a spending review negotiation with the Treasury and we’ll say more about this in a couple of weeks’ time when that spending review is completed.”
While that announcement was welcomed by Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, he warned:
“The salaries of teachers and leaders have declined against inflation for the last decade, undermining their real value and making teaching uncompetitive in relation to other professional graduate occupations.
“We would hope that the government will also be prepared to wrestle with some of the more fundamental problems that are causing teachers and leaders to leave the profession, like the damagingly high levels of accountability and unmanageable workload.”