A government drive to recruit “returner teachers” solely to English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects will give schools up to £1,900 for each person it supports into employment.
Last week, the National College of Teaching and Learning (NCTL) launched a pilot scheme to encourage schools, who are already part of School Direct and SCITT schemes, to recruit “returner teachers”.
The NCTL said the latest collected data, from March 2013, shows there are 337,600 qualified teachers in England not currently working in state-funded schools. Almost a third of them have “never taught” in state-funded schools, while a number will have retired or will have been barred from teaching.
Schools taking part in the pilot will be able to sign teachers up to a “package of support” in eight EBacc subjects – English, maths, biology, chemistry, physics, modern languages, history and geography, and computing science.
Cohorts of up to 40 returners can be enrolled by a single school, with programmes beginning in spring 2016. They will be given £1,900 for each returner working full or part-time in a state-funded school by November 2016 – which means a school supporting 40 returners will be eligible for £76,000.
The NCTL expects approved schools to market the support to potential returners and evaluate its success.
However, Professor John Howson, an education statistician, has raised concerns that the pilot does not accurately reflect the subjects with current teacher shortages, such as design technology and business studies.
“There is really no shortage of history teachers, at least in the state sector, although I suppose they could be expected to teach key stage 3 humanities to relieve the looming shortage of geography teachers.
“And what of religious education, IT and music, all other non-EBacc subjects where there have been, are, or will be shortages? Don’t these subjects count in the curriculum anymore?”
The Conservatives pledged in the general election that all children beginning secondary school from this academic year must study the EBacc subjects until the end of year 11.
Figures released by UCAS in May show that the number of people applying for teacher training places has continued to fall 12 per cent compared with the previous year, down to just under 34,000.
Recruitment targets were also missed last year. In November, the DfE released figures that showed recruitment was only at 93 per cent.
Design and technology recruited less than half the target number of teachers; English and history were over-subscribed by more than 20 per cent.
Bursaries for design and technology trainees have subsequently increased to £12,000 for those beginning training in 2015/16, up from £9,000 in 2014/15.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The number and quality of teachers in our classrooms is at an all-time high but as the economy strengthens we recognise that recruitment can be challenging – particularly in some areas of the country.
“From 2020 we will expect every young person to take the EBacc combination at GCSE, to ensure they’re studying the core subjects that will set them up for life. As part of guaranteeing all young people access to excellent teachers in these subjects we are supporting a number of schools to recruit up to 650 teachers to return to the classroom in September 2016.”
Schools must apply for funding by Monday, October 12. They can support a minimum of 10 returners, and maximum of 40, however all cohorts must be in multiples of 10.