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STEM Teachers: Disadvantaged Areas

Volume 717: debated on Monday 4 July 2022

1. What steps his Department is taking to attract science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers to disadvantaged areas. (900832)

From this autumn, the levelling-up premium will provide early career teachers in maths, physics, chemistry and computing with a bonus of up to £3,000 tax-free annually if they teach disadvantaged children in disadvantaged schools. That is in addition to tax-free bursaries worth £24,000 and tax-free scholarships worth £26,000.

Maths skills are one of the surest ways to ensure higher future earnings for students, so I welcome this package; it is the right thing to do to try to get high-quality teachers into disadvantaged schools. I also support the specialist maths schools agenda, which ensuring that aim in a different way. Will the Secretary of State update the House on its progress?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the work that she does to promote maths to girls. I believe she was previously a maths captain—we have a lot to learn from her. We have three great specialist maths schools, with some of the best A-level results nationally. We are on track to have 10 regional maths schools by 2025, including one in Surrey.

Does the Secretary of State agree that in order really to deliver this provision, we need partnerships with local and regional universities? Does it disturb him that some universities seem to want to go back to the past and only teach science and engineering, and not the arts and humanities? If levelling up is to mean anything, we need universities to be there for local communities.

I know that the hon. Gentleman is passionate about the topic, including through his think-tank’s work. He is right that universities, including the Open University, will play a key role. The work that I have witnessed in the collaboration between further education and higher education—the fungibility of both together—in our institutes of technology is equally important to ensure that we produce different runways from which young people’s careers can take off.