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Six ideas from MPs to aid recruitment and retention

Ministers must monitor how workload-reduction initiatives are performing in schools, axe “short-sighted” cuts to recruitment and training, and collect data on why teachers quit, MPs have said.

Publishing a parliamentary education committee report on its teacher recruitment and retention inquiry, chair Robin Walker said the government must “use all the tools in the box” to resolve problems.

Robin Walker

He added it is “essential we have a teaching workforce that feels respected and rewarded, or else the shortfalls in key subjects will deepen”.

But Daniel Kebede, National Education Union general secretary, said the proposals were “insufficient and too piecemeal to meet the challenge of teacher recruitment and retention”.

Here is a breakdown of the committee report findings…

1. Monitor impact of workload reduction in schools

The government has pledged to cut the average working week by five hours. It has promised to ditch performance-related pay and published a list of administrative tasks teachers shouldn’t have to do.

Further recommendations from the Department for Education’s workload reduction taskforce are expected soon.

The education committee said the DfE should “put measures in place to monitor the implementation of strategies and solutions across schools and trusts”.

It told Schools Week this was so the DfE could “learn lessons” from its own initiatives and how well they land with schools.

The taskforce’s proposals should be implemented as a “matter of urgency”, with the DfE reviewing progress in spring 2025, MPs added.

2. Collect data on why teachers leave

MPs said the DfE should “collect and publish data on the attrition of teachers by subject, particularly those in their first five years of teaching”.

Data should also be collected on the reason teachers are leaving, to “improve understanding of why particular subjects are experiencing higher attrition than others and to help target retention strategies as effectively as possible”.

The department should collect and publish data on regional subject shortages in teacher supply. Currently data is collected only for those “out of service”, or who retire or die.

3. Boost financial incentives

MPs said teacher pay “must keep pace year-on-year with other comparable sectors” to make the profession competitive and boost recruitment and retention, despite budget pressures.

Lower-valued bursaries should be introduced or increased for other shortage subjects, MPs said.

Government should also “expand the levelling-up premium and early career payments according to subject and regional demand” and roll them out nationally “if they continue to be a success”.

The Department should monitor the attrition of those who receive these payments. This would “improve understanding of whether there is a ‘postponement effect’ amongst recipients, where they leave the profession once these payments stop”.

4. Improve alternative routes into teaching

The DfE should “urgently rethink” axing funding for Now Teach, a recruitment programme aimed at persuading high-flying professionals to change career.

Government should also introduce more paid routes into teaching and bursaries specifically for those making a career change and for former teachers returning to the profession, MPs added.

MPs urged the DfE to review its decision to cut back the £10,000 teacher relocation payment scheme to attract staff from overseas.

5. Reinstate other axed schemes, too

The committee also urged the DfE to “reinstate funding” subject knowledge enhancement courses in primary school maths, DT, English, biology and RE, after funding for teacher training top-up courses was slashed.

Funding for national professional qualifications should also be “reinstated for all teachers to be able to benefit”. But no cost analysis was provided alongside the recommendations.

The DfE says…

A DfE spokesperson said there were now “record numbers of teachers in our schools with over 468,000 in the workforce, a 27,000 increase since 2010, and 59,600 more teaching assistants since 2011”.

However, as our fact check last year found, pupil numbers have risen almost twice as much in that time.

“To continue attracting the best and brightest, we offer bursaries and scholarships of up to £30,000 tax-free in the subject areas where they are needed most, including physics and maths, and opening new routes into the profession, such as through teacher degree apprenticeships.

“Last autumn the government delivered on its commitment, giving all new teachers a starting salary of at least £30,000. We are also taking steps to support teachers’ wellbeing and ease workload pressures, including plans to support schools to reduce working hours by five hours per week.”

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