Labour makes 6,500 extra teachers pledge one of its ‘steps for change’…

... but Sir Keir Starmer fails to provide any more details about how they'll do it

... but Sir Keir Starmer fails to provide any more details about how they'll do it

Labour has put recruiting 6,500 extra teachers as one of its six “first steps for change” in government – but has again failed to provide any details about how this would be done.

Published this morning, the sixth step says these will be “new teachers in key subjects to set children up for life, work and the future” – and paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools. The new teachers would be for secondary schools only.

The pledge is not new, and has been on Labour’s agenda since 2021. However, the party has been criticised for saying little on how it will achieve the aim during a recruitment and retention crisis.

Government has missed its secondary teacher recruitment targets for all but one of the past eleven years.

Speaking today, Sir Keir Starmer did not provide any further details on how they would boost recruitment.

He said: “We have to prepare our children and young people for the work they are actually going to do, and the lives they are actually going to live.

“And that will require reform, to make sure the skills they get taught are the skills they are going to need in life.”

Focus on ‘creativity and confidence’

He added we “need to concentrate on creativity, confidence – what a difference that makes – and resilience that all children need. But we need to get the basics right.

“The prime minister is very fond of lecturing us we need maths to age 18…but the serious point is this: we haven’t got enough maths teachers in our secondary schools for those up to age 16.

Bridget Phillipson
Bridget Phillipson

“We haven’t got enough maths teachers and other key subjects – that’s shocking.”

In 2022, after the pledge was made, the government missed its recruitment target by more than 9,000 teachers. But that rose to a 13,600 teacher gap last year, when just fifty per cent of the teacher recruitment target was met.

Labour has previously said the 6,500 figure is based on what they could afford from the private school VAT cash. Labour has promised £350 million to fund the pledge.

When challenged on what the plan is, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said last year that she wanted to make teaching “a more attractive place to be…that’s the starting point”.

She added the relationship between the government and education had to be reset, as did the message that government could send about the value of education – “and that teachers have a role to play in shaping that national mission”.

This was “not the entire answer” but “we have to start somewhere”.

‘Qualified, supported, expert teachers in every classroom’

Speaking prior to Starmer today, Phillipson added that “nowhere is the need for change more stark than in our schools”.

“Schools are literally crumbling around the next generation”, she said, adding that one in five children are “regularly not in class” and “thousands of lessons every week are taught by teachers not experts in their subjects”.

“It will be up to labour to turn the tide after the Conservatives failed a generation,” she added. The “future we want to build” is one with “qualified, supported, expert teachers in every classroom”.

Today, Starmer was also asked about the new sex education guidance. He said he will “look at whether it’s far removed from what’s happening” in schools.

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