Election 2024

Labour £450m pledge could net 7,000 teachers – but not all new

Analysis finds combination of higher pay and bursaries and new early-career payments could help bridge supply gap - but mostly via retention

Analysis finds combination of higher pay and bursaries and new early-career payments could help bridge supply gap - but mostly via retention

The Education Committee has heard from a panel of experts on how to solve specialist teacher shortages

Labour could narrow the teacher supply gap by 7,000 through a combination of higher pay, bigger bursaries and retention payments, but only 2,000 would be the “new” teachers promised by the party, new analysis suggests.

Many subjects would also continue to under-recruit even after such a package was put in place, suggesting the party will need to go further if it wins the election.

Labour has pledged to spend £450 million to recruit 6,500 “new” teachers, but has not explained in detail how it will achieve its ambition.

The pledge also falls far short of the current gap between recruitment numbers and targets – which stood at almost 14,000 in September.

Analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research modelled potential approaches Labour could adopt to boost teacher recruitment and retention.

It found that increasing pay and recruitment bursaries and introducing new retention payments would have a more positive effect on recruitment and retention than simply raising pay on its own.

Targeted payments ‘more cost-effective’

In a blog post, Jack Worth, lead economist at the NFER, said the combination option better improved recruitment for “two reasons”.

“First, measures that are targeted at shortage subjects have a greater impact on under-supply because they do not entail a ‘deadweight’ cost of allocating spending to subjects that are already at or above target.

Jack Worth
Jack Worth

“Second, NFER research has shown that bursaries and early-career payments are more cost effective than pay increases, because they focus resource on groups of teachers that are particularly responsive to financial inducements.”

According to Worth, the first model – spending £450 million on a 3.3 per cent increase in teacher pay across the board next year – would reduce the teacher supply gap by 4,000 by 2028.

However, just 600 of these teachers would be “new”. The rest would be achieved by increased retention.

The second model, involving a lower 2.6 per cent pay rise, the introduction of £2,400 retention payments for teachers in their third year and increasing bursaries by £3,000 for all subjects except PE and history, would cut the gap by 7,000.

Just 2,000 of these teachers would be new.

Many subjects would still under-recruit

The analysis predicted that the combination of a pay rise and incentive payment changes would mean both geography and religious studies would go from under-recruiting to over-recruiting.

Subjects that are already due to over-recruit in 2028, such as maths, history, English, biology, PE and classics would also increase recruitment.

But although there would generally be improvements in the remaining 10 subjects and primary, they would continue to under-recruit.

The Conservatives’ manifesto did not include any new policies on recruitment and retention, instead reiterating existing plans to expand “levelling-up premium” retention payments from this September.

Worth said NFER’s modelling of the Conservatives’ plans “suggests that teacher supply is likely to remain significantly below target both for primary and many secondary subjects”.

“Therefore, the manifesto does not make any additional pledges on the financial attractiveness of teaching, over and above what is already in train.”

Worth concluded that the analysis “suggests that Labour’s plans are likely to have a more positive impact on teacher supply than those of the Conservatives, particularly if the additional funding pledged is spent effectively”.

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  1. Tired Teacher

    It’s not recruitment that’s the problem it’s retention. Throwing money at is is all wrong. They need to look at why teachers are leaving and why retention is so poor. Reduce class sizes, stop the silly Ofsted scare mongering. Let Teachers teach and let Schools exclude unruly students that cause chaos and disruption. Stop working teachers into the ground by giving more time for PPA and a longer lunch break. Teaching up to 150 kids in a day whilst dealing with disruptive disrespectful behavior in class from the majority of kids and parents whilst trying to log all this and actually help kids learn is exhausting. And before all the teacher slammers come out you try doing this job in a broken society when most parents think we should be bringing up their children because they can’t be bothered.