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Phillipson will write to school staff to ‘reset relationship’

Bridget Phillipson will begin her first week at the Department for Education by writing to school staff about their “valuable role” and holding a reception for sector leaders in a bid to “reset the government’s relationship” with the sector.

She will also “expand” the government’s teacher recruitment drive, in what has been billed as starting work on meeting the pledge to deliver 6,500 new teachers.

Recruiting the extra teachers in shortage subjects was one of six key “steps for change” set out by new prime minister Sir Keir Starmer before his party soared to a landslide victory in Thursday’s election.

But the party has not said when it expects to meet this target, nor how exactly it will be achieved – with no new details communicated in a press release today.

The department also said it was too early to provide more details on when they would respond or release the teacher pay review body’s recommendations, which were delivered weeks ago to then education secretary Gillian Keegan.

Instead, Phillipson has “immediately embarked on resetting the government’s relationship with the sector and transforming the image of teaching – seen by the government as key to both recruiting new teachers and retaining those already in classrooms”.

She will today write to “education workforces to make clear the valuable role they will play in this government’s agenda for change”.

A reception will be held this week with “key education stakeholders”. Another “priority” is meeting with unions – after Labour pledged to rekindle the “social partnership” it held with the sector during the Blair and Brown years.

The DfE “will also immediately resume – and expand – its flagship teacher recruitment campaign, Every Lesson Shapes a Life”.

‘An attractive, expert profession’

Approached by Schools Week, the DfE would not say how the scheme would be expanded.

But the department said today’s announcements “illustrate the government’s intent to reestablish teaching as an attractive, expert profession, where the immeasurable impact which teachers can make on children’s lives is truly valued”.

Phillipson said: “From day one, we are delivering the change this country demands and putting education back at the forefront of national life.

“We will work urgently to recruit thousands of brilliant new teachers and reset the relationship between government and the education workforce.”

She warned that “for too long the teaching profession has been talked down, sidelined and denigrated”.

“I have made it my first priority to write today to the people at the centre of making change happen: our workforces.

“I want all children to have the best life chances which means recruiting and keeping great teachers in our classrooms – today is the first step in that mission.”

The Every Lesson Shapes a Life campaign involves directing those considering entering the profession to the Get into Teaching website, where they can get advice from advisers, a contact centre and national events.

The campaign “aims to demonstrate that teaching is a fulfilling, exciting career which can make a real difference to children and young people’s lives, whilst also enabling people to progress professionally”, the DfE said.

DfE seeks six new ‘strategy advisers’

The scheme is not new, having existed in many guises over the past three decades. The current iteration launched in 2018, and the latest round was launched this January.

It aims to reach a “core audience” of 18 to 29-year-olds “who want to find a career where they feel proud and uniquely valued for what they contribute”.

According to the DfE, it reaches “93 per cent of all adults in England through advertising channels”.

The new shadow education secretary arrived at Sanctuary Buildings on Friday evening, telling staff it was the “proudest day of my life”, but warning the change her party wants to deliver is “simple to describe” but “vast to deliver”.

Within a few hours of Phillipson’s appointment on Friday, the DfE advertised for six new “senior strategy advisers”, on salaries of between £53,669 and £57,498.

These officials will be “supporting the new ministerial team and the department to make mission-led government a reality”.

The DfE said it would welcome “candidates from all backgrounds and experiences”.

“For example, you may have experience working directly in our sectors, in a think tank, charity, consultancy, or in other relevant policy or delivery roles.

‘This is an exciting time to join the department, and if you want to be part of this journey, we look forward to hearing from you”

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