New maths and physics teachers will get £2k annual ‘incentive’ payment

school funding

Early career maths and physics teachers will be offered an extra £2,000 a year to stay in the profession under a government trial aimed at boosting retention in shortage subjects.

Teachers in the first five years of their career and working in the north east, Yorkshire and the Humber and the government’s social mobility “opportunity areas” can sign up to receive their first payment this autumn.

The pilot will last for two years but Schools Week understands it could be extended if successful.

We want to make sure that we can continue to attract and keep the brightest and best graduates

The £10 million initiative, first announced by chancellor Philip Hammond at last year’s budget, will see eligible teachers receive the extra cash on top of existing generous bursaries.

It means maths teachers could receive now up to £39,000 in their first five years of teaching – the £35,000 bursary, plus two £2,000 incentive payments.

The scheme is the latest sign the government is shifting its focus towards retention, in response to alarming data which shows the same number of teachers leave the profession each year as enter it.

In 2017, the Department for Education announced a shake-up of maths bursaries, increasing the total amount on offer from £25,000 to £35,000, but staggering some of the payments throughout the first five years of a teacher’s career to encourage them to stick around.

The government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy also included plans for an early career framework of support and training for newly and recently-qualified teachers, in response to concerns that many new entrants to the profession become jaded early on.

However, the government spending watchdog has previously expressed doubts about the effectiveness of teacher recruitment bursaries, and a union leader today warned that an approach using small incentives was not a “magic solution”.

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We’re sure that physics and maths teachers in a few areas of the country will appreciate a little bit extra in their pay packets in the next few months, but it is clear that the education secretary is determined to avoid a root and branch solution to the recruitment and retention crisis.

“This is in spite of a succession of reports and analyses of the Department for Education’s own data which show that ‘golden hellos’, bursaries and financial bungs are not the magic solution.”

But Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “Teaching remains a popular career, but we want to make sure that we can continue to attract and keep the brightest and best graduates, particularly in subjects where specialist knowledge and expertise are vital to the future success of the economy.

“The number of young people studying science and maths subjects has increased since 2010 and we have today pledged £10 million investment to ensure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling proposition and that every child has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Mike Parker, the director of Schools North East, said: “There are many factors that account for the disparity in outcomes for pupils in economically disadvantaged areas when compared with more affluent ones, but the availability and retention of teaching talent is among the greatest.

“Physics and maths are vital disciplines for the vibrant and successful sectors that are driving the economy in the north east. Investing in recruitment and retention of teachers is essential not only to the future success of pupils in this area but also to the long-term economic outlook of the region.”

Eligible teachers will be able to apply online and receive it directly. The DfE anticipates that they will be able to claim and have their payments issued to them in the autumn 2019 and autumn 2020 terms.

To receive the payments, teachers must meet the full eligibility criteria during both the application window and in each payment year. Supply teachers must have a contract for at least one term to be eligible for the payments.

Schools Week understands the £10 million allocated is meant to cover payments to all eligible teachers in both years.


Teachers in the following areas will be eligible

North East

County Durham





Newcastle upon Tyne

North Tyneside


Redcar and Cleveland

South Tyneside




Yorkshire and Humber


Bradford (also an opportunity area)



Doncaster (also an opportunity area)

East Riding of Yorkshire



Kingston upon Hull



North East Lincolnshire

North Lincolnshire




Scarborough (also an opportunity area)






Opportunity areas (not covered above)



Fenland and East Cambridgeshire






West Somerset

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One comment

  1. Steve Albon

    Quick. £2000. A life changing amount. Must apply. Oh hang on. The Government is offering to buy one reasonably large round of drinks a week for you… but only if you teach the right subject. Completely and utterly useless to the point of insult.