£60m plan to incentivise STEM teaching

Annual payments of up to £3,000 over the next three school years will be awarded to those undertaking early-career STEM teaching in disadvantaged schools in England

The government has confirmed it will implement the plan to incentivise STEM teaching announced by the prime minister at the Conservative party conference in October last year.

Sixty million pounds will be allocated to the ‘levelling up premium’, offering tax-free annual payments of up to £3,000 over the next three school years to those in their first five years of teaching maths, physics, chemistry or computing in disadvantaged schools in England.

The move marks what is essentially a second government U-turn on the issue. An early-career payments initiative was introduced in 2018-19 to encourage teachers in shortage subjects to stay in the profession after qualifying, before the DfE announced in October 2020 that it would be scrapped.

One of the key changes to the original initiative is that, while languages staff are no longer entitled to the payment, computing teachers are.

The Department for Education expects up to 7,000 teachers in 4,500 schools to benefit from the latest version of the scheme.

“The quality of pupils’ education in crucial subjects like maths and science should not be dependent on where they live, and teachers shouldn’t feel that they must leave their local area for a better paid job,” said education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, as the plan was reiterated.

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“Our levelling up premium will help give children and young people the best specialist teaching in maths, physics, chemistry and computing, while supporting jobs in low-income areas, helping to level up education for all and grow the economy,” added Zahawi.

Teachers working in the 55 local authorities designated as Education Investment Areas will be able to claim the maximum bonus of £3,000 per year, assuming they also work in one of the 30% most disadvantaged schools in the country (determined by the number of pupils eligible for the pupil premium).

The bonuses payable under the levelling up premium will be:

School’s proportion of pupil premium-eligible children In an Education Investment Area Outside an Education Investment Area
Top 30% nationally £3,000 £2,000
Top 50% nationally £2,500 £1,500
Top 70% nationally £2,000

The move comes alongside an announcement that £498 million from the government’s school condition improvement fund has been allocated to 1,405 schools and sixth form colleges most in need of improvements to their buildings.

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