Government names 25 areas for teacher student loan forgiveness pilot

The government has announced the 25 areas in which a pilot for teacher student loan forgiveness will be rolled out.

At the start of the month, education secretary Justine Greening announced a scheme of student loan forgiveness for teachers in shortage subjects working in areas of the country struggling with recruitment.

She said the policy would support schools to “attract and keep the best of the teaching profession”.

Now the 25 local authorities where the idea will be trialled have been announced on the Department for Education’s website.

They are: Barnsley, Blackpool, Bracknell Forest, Bradford, Cambridgeshire, Derby, Derbyshire, Doncaster, Halton, Knowsley, Luton, Middlesbrough, Norfolk, North East Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Oldham, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Salford, Sefton, St. Helens, Stoke-on-Trent and Suffolk.

All of the above areas, bar north Yorkshire, also crop up in the much longer list of “priority areas” for extra funding.

Multi-academy trusts in those areas can apply for more funding from the MAT Development and Improvement Fund, which had previously been called the regional academy growth fund.

Trusts in these 108 areas will be able to access £53 million of funding, but they must have a “proven record” of turning around under-performing schools.

The new pilot, whereby trainees will receive a reimbursement of their university loan each year, is currently for science and modern foreign languages teachers only.

The pilot will involve around 800 modern foreign language teachers and 1,700 science teachers a year. The reimbursement starts from when they begin training, a DfE spokesperson told Schools Week.

A DfE press release says for a teacher on £29,000, the new student loan repayments pilot and the increased student loan repayment threshold of £25,000 will mean £720 “cash in pocket” per year.

This is the equivalent of an approximate £1,000 increase in salary annually, it says.

The announcement of the 25 areas followed Greening’s speech at a Teach First conference today in which she insisted social mobility was “centre stage” of her department’s work.

She also admitted that the 12 “Opportunity Areas”, which will focus further funding in social mobility “cold spots”, might also need expanding, after a headteacher at the conference asked her why the north-east did not have such an area yet.

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