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Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Volume 649: debated on Monday 12 November 2018

7. What recent assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of teacher recruitment and retention. (907543)

The number of teachers remains high, with more than 450,000 in schools across the country—that is over 10,000 more than in 2010. With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment for over 40 years, competition with other professions, industry and commerce for the best graduates is fierce. That is why we have generous tax-free bursaries of up to £26,000 in certain subjects to attract high-performing graduates into teacher training and into the profession.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but teachers are leaving the profession in droves. In the north-east, over 500 teachers left last year. In real terms, teachers are thousands of pounds worse off than in 2010. Why is the Minister still imposing a real-terms pay cut on the majority of teachers?

We agreed the School Teachers Review Body recommendations for a 3.5% rise in the pay ranges for the main scale of teachers, a 2% rise in the upper pay scale and a 1.5% rise for the leadership range. We are funding that to schools through a teachers’ pay grant over and above the 1% they will already have budgeted. Earlier this year, we announced the new recruitment and retention strategy, building on existing work to boost marketing and support to applicants. The strategy seeks to increase retention rates by streamlining accountability and stripping away unnecessary workload, which the evidence suggests does not improve children’s outcomes.

What action is my right hon. Friend taking to cut down the time teachers spend doing unnecessary data-driven tasks, to help recruitment and retention?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right: dealing with workload has been a key objective of this Government. In July, we published the workload reduction toolkit, which provides material, practical advice and case studies that headteachers and other staff can use to address workload issues in their schools.

Obviously, the pay award that will go to teachers will also go to teachers in sixth-form colleges, but the Government are not funding that pay rise, so what assessment has the Minister made of the impact of the teachers’ pay award on college budgets?

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, we acknowledge that funding in the 16-to-18 sector has not been protected in the same way that we have protected school funding since 2010, because since 2010 our priority has been to ensure that basic education between the ages of five and 16 is given the priority it needs.

Servicemen and women in Her Majesty’s armed forces represent the very best of British, so what progress is being made with the Troops to Teachers scheme to encourage veterans to become teaching professionals?

The Troops to Teachers scheme has resulted in a number of high-qualified ex-military coming into our schools. It has been slow to start, but it is a good programme, and I am determined that it will continue.