Schools

55 ‘education investment areas’ named for £3k teacher retention payments

DfE wants 90% of primary pupils to meet 'expected standard', but 'levelling up' announcement includes no new money

DfE wants 90% of primary pupils to meet 'expected standard', but 'levelling up' announcement includes no new money



The government has named 55 areas of England where maths and science teachers will be handed £3,000 retention payments.

The government said the policy will form part of its “levelling up” white paper, where “education will be at the heart of major new reforms” to give “every child and adult the skills they need to fulfil their potential, no matter where they live”.

But the policy has already been announced. Prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled plans for a £60 million “levelling up premium” in his Conservative Party conference speech last year.

The policy, which will target maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers, is also itself a rehashed version of a 2019 scheme that ministers scrapped in 2020.

The 55 “education investment areas” to benefit for the programme (listed in full below) will also be prioritised for new “elite” sixth form free schools in the next wave of applications, government said.

Nearly all of the areas are outside of London and the south east.

Little detail on ‘support’ offer to schools

Schools in the areas selected will also be given “support to address wider issues”, though there is little detail on what this will entail – and no new funding announced.

One example given is encouraging schools struggling with attendance being encouraged to join a new pilot programme to tackle the issue.

A methodology document published by the DfE states that the education investment areas were selected because they had the lowest outcomes at the end of both key stage 2 and key stage 4, based on average performance scores between 2017 and 2019.

At key stage 2, the DfE used the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, whereas progress 8 scores were used at key stage 4.

The list of areas also includes any local authority that contains an existing opportunity areas, or one of four areas previously identified as having the “highest potential for rapid improvement”.

Ministers also re-announced plans for a consultation on bringing schools with long-term ‘requires improvement’ ratings into multi-academy trusts.

However the white paper will include a “new national mission to ensure that 90 per cent of children leaving primary school in England are reaching the expected standard in reading, writing, and maths by 2030”.

In 2019, just 65 per cent of pupils met all three standards, the DfE said.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the white paper “sets out our blueprint for putting skills, schools and families at the heart of levelling up”.

“It focuses on putting great schools in every part of the country, training that sets you up for success in a high-skilled, well-paid career and ensuring no one misses out on opportunities simply because of where they live or their family background.”

The 55 ‘education investment areas’

  • Bedford
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton
  • Bradford
  • Bury
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Central Bedfordshire
  • Cornwall
  • County Durham
  • Coventry
  • Darlington
  • Derby
  • Derbyshire
  • Doncaster
  • Dorset
  • Dudley
  • East Sussex
  • Halton
  • Hartlepool
  • Isle of Wight
  • Kirklees
  • Knowsley
  • Leeds
  • Lincolnshire
  • Liverpool
  • Luton
  • Manchester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Norfolk
  • North Northamptonshire
  • North Somerset
  • North Yorkshire
  • Nottingham
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Oldham
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Rochdale
  • Rotherham
  • Salford
  • Sandwell
  • Sefton
  • Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire
  • South Tyneside
  • St Helens
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Suffolk
  • Sunderland
  • Swindon
  • Tameside
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Wirral


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  1. Peter Endersby

    This reheated, like a quick school meal if you are lucky, policy announcement is less about levelling up and more about Build Back Boris. The reasons these schools are struggling certainly isn’t about pay or new sixth form colleges, FE has been starved to death over the last decade du to austerity . Under investment and missed opportunities in those towns and cities is the main driver. The Northern Powerhouse rail U-turn will undermine these efforts in this area of the world but I bet there are similar huge gaps in other areas that cannot be filled by flashing some short term cash at a profession built on vocation not financial reward.