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STEM Teachers in Disadvantaged Areas

Volume 721: debated on Monday 24 October 2022

3. What steps his Department is taking to attract science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers to work in disadvantaged areas. (901769)

As someone who was a teacher for nearly nine years in disadvantaged areas in London and Birmingham, may I say that teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have? In 2020-21 there was an increase of more than 4,400 full-time teachers in state-funded schools in England. This has resulted in the largest qualified teacher stock since the school workforce census began in 2011. We know that there is more to be done in some areas, which is why early career maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers working in eligible schools with disadvantaged pupil cohorts can now claim our tax-free levelling up premium.

One of the key disadvantages we have in Cornwall is the relatively high cost of housing. Cornwall is beautiful and people want to live there, but what more can the Department do to encourage teachers to come to Cornwall and not to other places with cheaper housing?

My hon. Friend will understand only too well, as a former resident of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, that, like Cornwall, it too is a place of outstanding beauty. This Government are committed to ensuring that affordable housing is delivered, and since 2010 more than 9,000 homes have been delivered in Cornwall. In August 2021 we announced £1 billion of funding from our affordable homes programme, which will be used to deliver more than 17,000 affordable homes across the south-west. I am pleased to say that Cornwall is also an education investment area and has 26 schools that are eligible for the levelling up premium, including Liskeard School and Community College in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and specialist teachers in certain subjects in those schools can claim up to £3,000 tax free annually. Finally, in March 2022—

Disadvantage knows no boundaries and, likewise, we have huge challenges in our schools in Hackney. The Government promised that the starting salary for teachers would be £30,000. How close are the Government to reaching that manifesto commitment?

I am delighted to tell the hon. Lady that, at the next independent pay review, I have asked for this Government’s manifesto commitment to a £30,000 a year starting salary to be honoured for 2023-24.