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School Leaders (Recruitment)

Volume 589: debated on Monday 1 December 2014

7. What steps she has taken to ensure that the best school leaders are recruited to work in the most challenging schools. (906336)

From 2015 the Government-funded Talented Leaders programme will match up to 100 excellent leaders with challenging schools, including in Norfolk. We also fund the charity Future Leaders to develop the leadership skills of aspirant head teachers.

I welcome the extension of the Talented Leaders programme to Norfolk. Excellent leadership is vital, and turning around a struggling school needs a team effort, with teachers, governors and parents all pulling in the same direction. What efforts will be made to ensure that the Talented Leaders programme supports a whole-school approach?

My hon. Friend is exactly right that we need not only to get talented head teachers and leaders into those schools, but to ensure that other members of the school community are part of that. That is why, under this programme, each school will be entitled to a leadership sustainability grant of £50,000, which is ring-fenced for staff and governor development in order to build leadership capacity for the future.

For the third year running the Government have missed their teacher recruitment targets. For example, only 67% of physics places have been filled—the figures are 88% for maths and 44% for design and technology. Does the Minister accept that the teacher recruitment crisis is leading to real problems in key subjects and in leadership roles right across the country?

We certainly accept that for some time now there have been challenges when recruiting to some of the core subjects, including some of the core scientific subjects, and that is why we have significantly increased the bursaries available in those areas. However, we should also acknowledge the great successes there have been in recent years in getting more outstanding graduates into the teaching profession, and we will do more of that in future.

Some of our country’s best leaders can be found in Her Majesty’s armed forces. What success are we having in recruiting former soldiers, sailors and airmen to become teachers in our schools, and what success are we achieving in getting more male teachers into primary schools?

My hon. Friend is right on both points. The latest statistics show that we are having more success in recruiting male teachers into primary schools. We are also doing more, through our Troops to Teachers programme, to use the talents of many people who have served our country in the armed forces and can now serve our education system, too.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating the leadership of Wellfield community school in my constituency, under head teacher Linda Rodham, on improving the school’s Ofsted rating from poor to good in four terms, and on the improvements we are seeing in qualifications year on year? Does that not prove that there is no smell of defeatism in the schools of east Durham?

I am delighted to hear about the success of that school in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I hope that other schools in the region, and in those regions where there has been underperformance, will look at was has been done there and realise that there is nothing inevitable about failure in any part of the country.