Schools won't have to contribute to early career bonuses for maths teachers

The government has confirmed it will proceed with its plans for early career bonuses for maths teachers who choose to stay in the profession, and has announced that schools will not have to contribute at all to the payments.

In October last year Schools Week reported that the maximum bursary on offer to new maths teachers would be increasing by £10,000, while the amount they receive upfront would be decreased in a bid to encourage them to teach for longer.

Under the new scheme, all maths graduates will get an upfront payment of £20,000 when they become secondary school teachers. 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 also be available “to encourage the best maths teachers to teach in more challenging schools”.

In a consultation response released today, the Department for Education (DfE) explained that it will ensure schools are not required to financially contribute to these “early-career payments”, and that the teachers will receive the full payments without any deductions.

This will be achieved by the DfE covering the cost of the income tax and both the employee and employer national insurance contributions that are associated with the bonuses.

According to DfE intial teacher training census statistics for 2017-18, just 79 per cent of the required number of trainees for maths were recruited. A report by the Education Policy Institute, published yesterday, also found that half of teachers in high-priority subjects, which includes maths, had left the profession after five years.

Justine Greening unveiled the proposed changed to maths teaching bursaries at the 2017 Conservative Party conference, when she promised some maths graduates would be in line to receive up to £35,000 on top of their salaries, in exchange for joining and remaining in the teaching profession.

Before these changes the the maximum bursary available for new maths teachers was £25,000, though this was all paid upfront.

The DfE called for views on how the new bonuses for maths teachers should be administered at the start of the summer this year, in a consultation that ran from July 16 to July 30, but only two teachers came forward with feedback.

In its response to the consultation the department clarified that the proposed bonsues would only apply to teachers completing postgraduate secondary mathematics initial teacher training in the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

After this the DfE will consider whether to roll out the scheme further, depending on the success of the pilot in improving recruitment and retention in maths teaching. An external evaluation of the pilot has already been commissioned.

The DfE also said it will also be looking to “minimise the administrative burden on both schools and teachers” in claiming the payments, though both will still have a “role” to play in the process.