Teacher recruitment and retention strategy: the 11 new policies

The Education Committee has heard from a panel of experts on how to solve specialist teacher shortages

The government has today published the long-awaited teacher recruitment and retention strategy. Here’s a handy Schools Week round-up of the 11 new policies.


1. Plans to make Ofsted the only trigger for support by dropping ‘floor’ and ‘coasting’

The government has said school accountability needs to be “simpler and more supportive”. To do this, education secretary Damian Hinds has launched a consultation on plans that clear up accountability – making Ofsted the only game in town.

Basically, it clarifies that formal intervention (including forced academisation) will only ever result from an “inadequate” rating. And a consultation has also been launched to make “requires improvement” the sole trigger for an offer of government support from September – replacing the floor and coasting standards.


2. ‘Wholesale’ review of teaching schools, with MATs to play bigger support role

Hinds has pledged a “wholesale” review of the role of teaching schools and system leadership designations to ensure support is “as strong as possible”.

The government said it wants to bring more academy trusts with “proven records of driving improvement” into its school improvement offers.


3. There’s going to be an ITT review, too (with new plans for Teach First)

The government will review the initial teacher training market to spot improvements and reduce costs for providers. The DfE also wants to get high-quality MATs to “extend their reach, deliver at scale and do more to support the wider system”.

There’s also a pledge to harness the “expertise and experience” of Teach First, including exploring how they can be supported to gain QTS recommending power alongside their current work with universities, encouraging them to work with smaller school-based providers.


4. New Ofsted hotline to report workload inspection breaches

The department has again pledged to work with Ofsted to tackle the workload “audit culture”, repeating commitments that no arm of ever ask to see data tracking systems, specific evidence of lesson-planning and marking, or pupil targets.

But the report also reveals Ofsted will be launching a new hotline for headteachers to report breaches of these commitments directly to its central office. This should give headteachers confidence inspections will be consistent, the strategy states.


5. Plans to scope out building new homes for teachers on surplus land

The DfE praises schools that offer their teachers additional benefits such as help with childcare, transport season ticket loans and gym membership, and has pledged to support such innovation. That includes partnering with schools, trusts and councils in challenging areas to develop attractive “local offer” packages.

There is a pledge to “explore” whether there is demand from teachers for new homes on surplus school land. If so, the DfE will work with the housing department to “explore whether an extension of permitted development rights is need to speed up such developments”.

Some academy trusts, particularly in London, are already doing this, but while others have shown interest they said funding rules make it too hard.


6. More off-timetable support for new teachers under the early career framework

All new teachers will now complete a two-year induction where they will get “sustained and structured” support, including a trained mentor.

This appears to be the strategy’s key proposal, which the government hopes can be a real game-changer for both recruitment and retention.

The DfE has secured an extra £130 million per year to fund the new early career framework, which will cover providing five per cent off timetable for new teachers in the second year of teaching, high quality curricula and training materials, and fully-funded mentor training.

The framework will be first rolled out in September 2020 as part of Opportunity North East, before potential for further roll out to Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester.

The Education Endowment Foundation is funding pilots from September, before national roll-out in September 2021.


7. New specialist qualifications to further careers outside of school leadership

Tying in with the new support under the ECF, the government will now develop specialist NPQs outside of the traditional school leadership route.

This is to match the emerging career pathways in trusts and teaching school alliances, and qualification will cover assessment, behaviour, curriculum and pedagogy. The first new qualification will also be a “teacher developer” NPQ to support roll out of the ECF.

There is also a pledge the system will be reweighted to make clear that the best career progression and professional development is in schools in the most disadvantaged areas.


8. Teacher pay system review to support the new career pathways

The government has pledged a “comprehensive review” of the pay framework to support “more flexible and rewarding career pathways”. The School Teachers’ Review Body will be asked for recommendations on how to achieve this with a view to implementing reform in 2020.


9. ‘’ for teachers to promote flexible working

Another key thread running through the strategy is flexible working. Just 28 per cent of women teachers work part-time compared to the 40 per cent average for all UK employees. Whereas just 8 per cent of men work part-time, compared to 12 per cent nationally.

To help boost these figures, the government is creating a “find your jobshare” website that will support teachers looking for jobshare partners, and launching a competition for EdTech providers to create innovative solutions to promote part-time working.

Read more: Hinds is right to shift from recruitment to retention


10. ‘One-stop’ teacher applications to ‘radically simplify’ system

Last year, more than 150,000 registered onto the Get Into Teaching website – but only 45,000 applied for mainstream postgraduate teacher training.

The current set-up – where an applicant would have to work through three separate systems to apply – is to be replaced with an easy-to-use “one-stop” application system that will “work seamlessly” with the Get Into Teaching website and the new Find service.

There is no date for a launch.


11. Bursary reforms to stagger payments

The analysis of the impact of the government’s spend on bursaries hasn’t been great.

More bursaries will now be reformed to follow the phased payment system introduced in maths last year (instead of £26,000 upfront, prospective maths teachers get £20,000 in their training year, with £5,000 payments in year three and five of teaching).

The government states around 40 per cent of bursary spend in the new phased subjects will be on retention, marking a “fundamental shift … to support both recruitment and retention”. Payments will also be higher for teachers working in more challenging schools. The subjects to be reformed aren’t listed.

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