Failed National Teaching Service was developed 'in a hurry', admits DfE boss

The head of the Department for Education has admitted that the failed National Teaching Service was developed “in a bit of a hurry” and did not adequately incentivise teachers or schools to take part.

Jonathan Slater, the DfE’s permanent secretary, has told MPs that the service failed because it did not offer teachers enough money to take part.

The National Teaching Service was abandoned last December after it emerged that just 24 teachers had accepted jobs under the scheme by the middle of last November.

The scheme offered up to £10,000 for teachers or middle leaders with at least three years’ experience to relocate to struggling schools, and was due to launch in the north-west in January of this year.

As revealed by Schools Week last year, the policy failed even after the deadline for applications for the trial in the north-west was extended by several months.

Just 14 people applied by the original deadline of late August 2016, and a further 10 applied after.

Slater told the parliamentary public accounts committee this afternoon that the government had learned that the amount offered to teachers had not been enough of an incentive, and that where teachers did apply, some schools were reluctant to take them on.

“Number one, we found that a £10,000 relocation sum didn’t incentivise enough people to move,” he said. “Number two, we found that there were more people wanting to move than there were schools wanting to receive them.

“So while 24 people were reallocated successfully, there were 29 people who wanted to, but the schools in question didn’t want to receive them.”

This reluctance among schools was down to issues with the particular subject specialisms of the teachers or the phase they taught.

“I suppose the final thing we learned is we did it in a bit of a hurry, to be honest,” he said.