Politics

Experts challenge ministers over £3k ‘levelling up premium’

Details are scarce on policy rehashed from retention scheme scrapped in 2020

Details are scarce on policy rehashed from retention scheme scrapped in 2020

The government “risks treading a well-trodden path to failure” with its plans for a £3,000 “levelling up premium” to send the best maths and science teachers to the “places that need them most”.

Teacher recruitment and retention researchers this week questioned the viability of the £60 million scheme announced in Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party conference speech.

Maths, chemistry, computing and physics teachers in the first five years of their careers will be eligible for the tax-free bonus if they stay in the schools that “need them the most”.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi added the scheme would “support the recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in shortage subjects”.

But no further details of which schools would benefit were announced.

Zahawi added: “We know that more than one in ten teachers from the most disadvantaged secondary schools leave to teach in other schools and we are determined to correct that.”

Scrapped policy has been repackaged

The policy is a repackaged version of a similar initiative scrapped last year.

A £10 million two-year pilot offering early career maths and physics teachers in deprived areas £2,000 a year extra to stay in the profession was launched in 2019. Maths teachers were also previously eligible for a £5,000 early career payment.

The Department for Education ditched the scheme while wielding cuts to teacher training bursaries.

When challenged on this by the BBC, Zahawi said: “I’m a pragmatist. I don’t have a problem with saying I’ll bring something back and improve it. It’s a good thing to do.”

league tables levelling up premium
Loic Menzies

But Loic Menzies, a visiting fellow at Sheffield Institute of Education, said the plan “risks treading a well-trodden path to failure”, adding there were “a number of other levers” they could use.

He said, with the exception of London and other “grad-magnate cities, teacher labour markets are local.

“That need not be a problem given that there are high-potential teachers everywhere. The government could achieve many of its goals by finding these individuals, drawing them into teaching and keeping them – rather than ‘sending people there’.

“Doing so would also provide local jobs, counteract deficit discourses, and ensure that teachers have connections and credibility with the families and communities they serve.”

Retention experts want more details

In its announcement, the DfE pointed to a Gatsby Foundation report which found increasing pay for teachers in shortage subjects did reduce the number who quit the profession.

Its author, Dr Sam Sims from UCL, told Schools Week the success of any scheme would depend on eligibility, adding there was “not really any persuasive evidence” that paying teachers to move school worked.

“If this policy is designed in a way that pays more money to teachers in shortage subjects in order to keep them, then it’s probably a good idea.

“But if it’s more of, ok, we want to pluck you from Brixton and move you to Margate for £3,000 then I think it’s probably not a good idea.”

Sam Sims

Professor Steven Gorard, from the University of Durham, said financial incentives to get teachers into disadvantaged schools “are not new, and have been tried before”.

He said reviews of the “best available evidence” showed that temporary or one-off payments “might encourage some teachers to move to hard-to-staff schools, but that they will tend to remain there only for as long as they have to”.

He added: “£3,000 is not enough to change teachers’ lives and uproot their families.”

‘More human approach is needed’

The government has a poor record on schemes attempting to send the best teachers into struggling schools.

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan’s plans to pay 1,500 “elite” teachers extra to work in under-performing schools was scrapped after just 24 took up the offer.

Menzies added “blunt financial instruments will not be enough to counter the powerful ‘trailing spouse’ effect, as well as people’s deep sense of connection to people and place.

“A softer, more human approach is therefore needed and this depends on the DfE team becoming geographers and studying some maps. Although some of the areas the government is targeting might not be every highly-qualified graduate’s dream, nearby cities might be.”

Latest education roles from

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Capital City College Group

Distance Learning Tutor

Distance Learning Tutor

Capital City College Group

Event Support Team Leader

Event Support Team Leader

MidKent College

E-Sport Technician

E-Sport Technician

MidKent College

Digital Technician

Digital Technician

MidKent College

Student Welfare Officer

Student Welfare Officer

MidKent College

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Politics

Sir Kevan Collins joins the DfE board

Former EEF boss and catch up tsar will advise Phillipson on raising school standards

Freddie Whittaker
Politics

Robert Halfon resigns as skills minister

Former education committee chair will also stand down as an MP at the election

Billy Camden
Politics

Ark stands by chair Sir Paul Marshall over social media activity

The Conservative donor has been accused of liking and sharing extremist posts

Freddie Whittaker
Politics

Phillipson invokes zeal of Gove reforms in Labour schools vision

Former minister brought 'energy and drive and determination' that is required again, says shadow education secretary

Samantha Booth

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *