Election 2024

There’s only one way to deliver 6,500 more ‘expert’ teachers

The election is over and reality is about to start punching promises in the face. Let’s hope something good comes out of it

The election is over and reality is about to start punching promises in the face. Let’s hope something good comes out of it

5 Jul 2024, 11:32

The election is over. Labour have won, and as Donald Trump would say, they have won bigly. Probably more bigly than ever before.

I wish they had won bigly because of a bigly set of evidence-based education policies. 

However, that is not sadly the case. Labour’s signature education policy is to recruit 6,500 more ‘expert’ teachers. That is roughly one extra teacher between four schools. This is not a bigly policy. 

There are no bigly plans for how to achieve this either. Indeed, there are no plans at all. The manifesto is a completely blank canvas on delivery. 

The Department for Education has been trying to recruit more teachers for years. As an economist, I know how to do it: pay teachers more. It is economics 101 day one: supply and demand. The Tory attempt to recruit more teachers without a respectable pay offer has proven Margaret Thatcher right on one thing: you cannot buck the market. Low pay means recruitment difficulties. 

Labour have fully costed those extra teachers – but nothing more. No sense of the need for a general wage rise. It is as though they think that there are hordes of would-be teachers being turned away from teacher training institutions. That is of course true for med school places; if only it were true for teacher training places! 

Labour will no more be able to buck the market than were the Tories. I have no inside information, but the Permanent Secretary would be failing in her duty of candour to the minister if she does not deliver that message. Welcome to ministerial office.

Mike Tyson once remarked that everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face. In this case Labour don’t have a plan, but reality is still going to metaphorically punch them in the face. Even more importantly, Tyson added “then they stop and freeze”. 

Labour will not be able to buck the market

I don’t want Bridget Phillipson to get punched, and I don’t want her to stop and freeze. I want her to deliver this pledge. Not because it matters, but because the means to achieve it matter a lot. 

That is what should give the sector hope. The 6,500 extra teachers are one of Labour’s six first steps. ‘First steps’ surely makes it a promise they have to deliver quickly? A first step does not sound like 1,300 a year in each of five years. 

6,500 is a lot of teachers in one year. In fact, it is 20 per cent of the current target of 24,000 new secondary, and 9,000 new primary teachers a year. 

I think teachers should get a pay rise. Not because I like you (although I do). Or because I want you to be able to afford your Schools Week subs (although I do). But because a well-paid teaching profession is the only way we will get enough teachers to give our children the future that they deserve and our nation the future it needs. Teacher pay is a moral issue – but the moral issue is to our children and our country’s future.

I hope, therefore, that Labour will come to realise pretty quickly that the only way to hit this remarkably specific pledge is to pay teachers more. A proper pay rise. A bigly pay rise. One that moves teachers up the rank order. 

We, as a sector, need to trumpet every piece of teacher recruitment data that appears – and ask them where those promised 6,500 teachers are. We need to ask them for their plan. 

6,500 extra teachers, expert or not, are not a major education policy. The question is whether we, as a sector, can use it to get something that would matter for our schools: a decent pay rise for teachers. 

And on that note, enjoy your summers. See you in September.

Latest education roles from

Procurement Officer

Procurement Officer

RNN Group

Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment

Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment

Barnet and Southgate College

Professional Practice (TLA) Lead

Professional Practice (TLA) Lead

RNN Group

Health & Care Coordinator

Health & Care Coordinator

MidKent College

HR Assistant

HR Assistant

MidKent College

Principal, Cedar Mount Academy Bright Futures Educational Trust

Principal, Cedar Mount Academy Bright Futures Educational Trust

Satis Education

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Election 2024

Former science teacher and her ex-pupil elected as new Labour MPs

'It's just lovely and I feel like a bit of a proud mum, I'm just so incredibly proud'

Samantha Booth
Election 2024

SEND moved into schools minister McKinnell’s brief

Move to align special needs with schools responsibilities comes after education secretary said she's 'gripping the issue'

Freddie Whittaker
Election 2024

SEND crisis must be ‘first order issue’ for new government

Labour has inherited a system on its knees with councils facing bankruptcy, parents forced into court and schools crying...

Freddie Whittaker
Election 2024

Catherine McKinnell: 9 facts about the new schools minister

Roles have not been officially confirmed, but one of McKinnell's colleagues has said she will cover schools brief

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *