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Teach First Scheme

Volume 593: debated on Monday 2 March 2015

Teach First has made a real difference to the education and life chances of thousands of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas in our country. Since the Government came to office, we have more than doubled the number of trainees on the programme and spread its reach to every region in the country. For 2015-16, we have expanded the programme again. Funding has been allocated for 2,000 trainees, 33% up on last year. More than 50% of the secondary allocation will focus on priority subjects: maths, science, modern languages, computing, and design and technology.

I thank the Minister for that comprehensive answer. On a recent visit to the absolutely splendid Grove academy in Watford, it was brought to my attention that it can be difficult for the school, and for Watford schools in general, to attract staff because 2 miles down the road, with London weighting as it is, people receive £2,500 a year more for the same job. Given that Watford is demographically and occupationally similar to most London suburbs, will the Minister look at London weighting in this respect, so that Watford jobs become more competitive with London jobs next door?

My hon. Friend raised these issues when I visited Watford and a number of schools there recently. The pay reforms we have introduced over the last two years have given schools greater flexibility to decide how much they can pay a teacher and how quickly pay progresses. Our reforms are providing schools with the discretion they need to address any school-level recruitment and retention problems they may have. However, as my hon. Friend also knows, decisions about the definitions of inner and outer London and the London fringe area are ultimately a matter for the independent School Teachers Review Body.