Phased bursaries worth £35k rolled out to physics, chemistry and MFL

Trainee teachers in physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages will get new retention payments of up to £9,000 staggered across the first four years of their teaching career – on top of their £26,000 bursary payment.

The new phased bursaries, first set out in the government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy in January, will come into force next year.

Trainee maths teachers will continue to get the extra early career payments.

Currently, they receive a £20,000 bursary in their training year and then £5,000 of retention payments in both their third and fifth year, rising to £7,500 in the most challenging schools.

But from next year the initial bursary for maths trainees will rise to £26,000, with retention payments falling to a total of £6,000 across the four years (or £9,000 in challenging schools).

This aligns the subject with trainees in physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages who will also now get a £26,000 bursary plus the staggered retention payments. Currently these trainees do not receive any “staying on” payments.

The government said the £250 million financial incentives would ensure talented graduates remain in the profession.

But some subjects will see large decreases.

Geography bursaries will be radically reduced from £26,000 this year to just £15,000 from 2020, while both English and history have been reduced by £3,000, dropping to £12,000 and £9,000 respectively next year.

However, trainees in art and design and business studies will be eligible for £9,000 bursaries for the first time, while design and technology has seen a £3,000 increase to £15,000.

The government reviews bursary payments each year to take into account both current recruitment and future need.

Gavin Williamson, education secretary, said the new bursaries will ensure the “brightest and the best talent” is drawn to the teaching profession while ensuring “those who stay in the classroom benefit most”.

The teacher recruitment and retention strategy pledged a “fundamental shift” in bursary policy – with 40 per cent of bursary spend in phased subjects to be moved into retention payments.

The plans are hoped to end ‘bursary tourism’. Last year, Schools Week revealed that at least £14 million had been spent on bursaries for graduates in shortage subjects who then left the classroom.

In 2016, the National Audit Office warned that almost £1 billion had been spent on bursaries for new teachers without any proper evaluation of their effectiveness as a recruitment tool.