Johnson government must press ahead with teacher bursaries reform, say MPs and peers

The government must press on with plans to offer larger bursaries to teachers in the most challenging schools, a group of MPs and peers has said.

Justin Madders and Baroness Claire Tyler, the chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on social mobility have written to the chancellor Sajid Javid ahead of next week’s spending review, urging him to make headway on the government’s plan to reform its bursary programme for teachers.

Earlier this year, the government published its long-awaited teacher recruitment and retention strategy, which included a pledge to phase some bursaries to aid retention and increase the amounts on offer to those in the most disadvantaged communities.

“This will help to create a system that works to more naturally attract and retain good teachers in the schools that need them most,” the document stated.

However, the recent change in government has prompted concerns that some of the widely-welcomed proposals in the recruitment and retention strategy, a pet project for Damian Hinds during his 18 months in post, could be kicked into the long grass as Brexit and other issues take priority.

Today, the APPG said it is “concerned that the teacher recruitment and retention crisis is reinforcing inequalities”.

The letter states that teacher recruitment and retention is a bigger challenge in the most disadvantaged schools and areas, with 85 per cent of teachers in disadvantaged schools stating that recruitment issues are affecting the quality of education they can provide.

A key issue when retaining teachers is the lack of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD), the letter said, with workload and money additional barriers to accessing CPD.

“The APPG is calling on the government to follow through on their ambitious strategy and support schools in social mobility coldspot areas to offer a more generous financial incentive,” the letter states.

“This should be combined with a strong offer of additional professional development to teachers to encourage them to take up positions there.”

The letter sets out a series of policies, from birth to the workplace, to improve opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

The APPG also repeated its calls for the pupil premium to be renamed the “social mobility premium”, a change which they said would help encourage schools to use the additional money to aid teacher recruitment and retention.

“This emphasis on quality teaching is reflected in recent guidance by the Education Endowment Foundation which suggests spending on teaching should be a priority for pupil premium funds.

“This can include professional development, recruitment and retention and support for early career teachers,” the chairs wrote.

A DfE spokesperson said: “Standards in our schools across the country are rising and the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers has narrowed since 2011.

“The Prime Minister has made clear that we will increase minimum levels of per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools and return education funding to previous levels.”