Teenagers are to be offered £15,000 to become maths and physics teachers, the government has announced today.
Under plans due to be revealed by prime minister David Cameron and education secretary Nicky Morgan, it is hoped the financial incentive will bring “top graduates” into the profession.
The plan is part of a £67 million scheme, which will also provide online support for maths and science teachers wish to return to the classroom after a break, and funds to pilot fast-track schemes for career professionals in other fields who wish to retrain as teachers.
A level pupils willing to commit to teaching for three years after graduation will be offered up to £15,000 to cover their university costs.
A level pupils will be offered up to £15,000 to help with university costs if they commit to teach for three years after graduation. Paid teaching internships will also be available to maths and physics undergraduates from next summer in a bid to provide classroom experience before committing to a teaching career.
New physics degrees will be piloted in ten “top” universities. Students will receive a teaching qualification alongside their degree, rather than having to undertake a further year’s teacher training. These courses, accredited by the Institute of Physics, will begin in the academic year 2016/17. It is not yet known which universities are taking part.
Last week, Schools Week exclusively reported on statistical analysis showing that teachers with physics-specific degrees do not necessarily increase the attainment of pupils in the subject.
Commenting on the announcement today, Dr Rebecca Allen, the director of Education Datalab which completed the analysis, raised questions regarding the impact on undergraduate degree admissions.
She said: “If the [undergraduate] courses are oversubscribed, do we choose the best physicists, as universities do now, or those with the best interpersonal skills who are going to be the best teachers?”
Introducing the announcement, Mr Cameron said: “I want to make Britain the best place in the world to learn maths and science – and because of our growing economy, we have a clear plan to deliver the best teachers to make this happen.”
In order to deliver more teacher, the government will also expand its Maths and Physics ‘chairs’ programme by recruiting more than 100 “experts with PhDs” in science or maths subjects to teach in schools struggling with maths and physics results or facing a teacher shortage. Participants teach for two years, are trained on the job and are paid up to £40,000 during their time on the scheme.
Ms Morgan said: “The plans announced today will raise standards in maths and physics further to ensure more children leave school with these valuable skills and can go on to compete for the top jobs and succeed in life.”
Both the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) both said they welcome the move – but wanted more to be done in other subject areas.
Brian Lightman, ASCL general secretary, said: “There is a need for a robust strategy plan to make sure there are enough teachers coming through in every subject.
“Headteachers all over the country are reporting serious shortages in not only maths and science teachers, but also in English teachers, and in non-core subjects too.
“A priority must be to develop a teacher recruitment model that can anticipate supply and demand and ensure there are enough teachers in all regions and subjects.”
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The number of applicants to primary ITE has fallen by a third over the last four years. There is growing evidence of shortages in secondary subjects like music, geography and design and technology.”
She said funding should be given to all trainees.