The maximum bursary on offer to new maths teachers is to increase by £10,000, but the amount mathematicians will receive upfront will decrease, in a bid to encourage them to teach for longer.
Under new bursaries for maths teachers unveiled by Justine Greening at the Conservative Party conference on Sunday, some maths graduates will receive up to £35,000 on top of their salaries in exchange for joining and remaining in the teaching profession.
Under the proposals, all maths graduates will get an upfront payment of £20,000 when they train. Those who stay on will then receive two subsequent payments of £5,000 in the third and fifth year of their teaching careers.
Increased incremental amounts of £7,500 will be available “to encourage the best maths teachers to teach in more challenging schools”, the government says.
The change represents a rise of £10,000 in the total amount new maths teachers will get in bursaries. Under the current system, the maximum bursary is £25,000.
However, currently, that £25,000 is all paid upfront, meaning that maths teachers under the new scheme will receive £5,000 less when they first enter the classroom.
Despite the large bursaries already available for maths teachers, there have been problems with retention in the subject.
Last year, a survey of 30 providers by the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) found that more than a quarter of secondary school drop-outs were in maths.
The announcement of the new system has been cautiously welcomed by the National Education Union. But its joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted has called it a “sticking plaster”.
“It is good that the government is rethinking their approach to bursaries and adding an incentive for teachers in some subjects to remain in teaching,” she said.
“We hope that this is genuine pilot and that the impact on quality and retention is fully analysed before wider implementation. We also need to see the impact on how this affects take-up of other subjects.”
Bousted said workload remained a “serious concern” for NEU members, and warned the change to bursaries would not be enough to “secure enough teachers for every school”.
“Only forty-eight per cent of England’s secondary classroom teachers have completed 10 years in teaching, and a worryingly high number of teachers are leaving the profession very early on in their careers,” she said.
“All teachers need, and deserve, a pay increase after suffering under years of public sector pay restraint. Sticking-plaster solutions such as this will not address serious recruitment and retention problems.”
Announcing investment of £30 million to help schools attract and retain teachers, Greening said great teachers were “at the heart of a great education”.
“I want to do more to support schools to be able to attract and keep the best of the teaching profession,” she said.