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Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Volume 721: debated on Monday 24 October 2022

The Department is committed to attracting and retaining the highly skilled teachers we need by investing £181 million in this year’s recruitment cycle, including training bursaries and scholarships worth up to £29,000. We are also delivering 500,000 training opportunities, reforming teacher training and delivering on this Government’s manifesto commitment of £30,000-a-year starting salaries.

That sounds very rosy, but teacher vacancies have gone up 240% since 2011. According to the latest National Education Union poll, 44% of England’s state school teachers plan to quit by 2027—22% of them in the next two years. Things are particularly difficult because experienced teachers—who may have 20 years’ experience—are leaving the profession. What steps is the Minister taking to address pay, stress and an unmanageable workload, which are driving the most experienced teachers out of the profession?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that great question, because being a teacher is so important and positive, and it is a shame that he used his opportunity to be a bit negative about the profession. As we try to recruit and retain staff, we need people to talk up what a great profession this is to work in. [Interruption.] I am being shouted down by Opposition Members, but there is not a single year of teaching among them—I have nine years’ experience and I get shouted down for simply being someone who worked on the shop floor. The lessons should be learned from the past.

However, let me tell the hon. Gentleman what we are doing. We are making sure that we have the £30,000-a-year starting salary, which is amazingly competitive with the private sector. We are going to have the £181 million in scholarships and grants, including £29,000 in physics, for example. And we are going to make sure that we tackle retention and workload through the Department’s workload toolkit, which has so far reduced workload on average by about five hours.

Wow! This Government have no ambition for our children’s futures: soaring numbers of council schools are in deficit, the attainment gap is at a decade high and the Schools Bill has been ripped up. However, the recruitment and retention of secondary school teachers—not just Prime Ministers—is in crisis. Estimates based on DFE data suggest that the Government are set to fall 34 percentage points below their recruitment target. Will the Minister explain what specific action he will take to stop the rot and fix his own Government’s failure on this issue?

I am glad the hon. Gentleman has been let out of detention by the Standards Commissioner for the very naughty letter he sent only recently regarding me. However, let me be very clear that the hon. Gentleman is making a point—

Order. Let me just say that we want better taste in the House. The Minister is no longer on the Back Benches, so his rhetoric needs to be that of a Minister. I know he has that standing and capability. Come on, Minister!

Mr Speaker, I am making the point very clearly. The hon. Gentleman has an opportunity to stand at the Dispatch Box and talk up the teaching professions, talk up our schools, and talk up our reforms since 2010-11, which have seen the attainment gap narrowed—that was until, of course, the global pandemic, which has affected every single sector of our economy. Sadly, things have not gone in a way that we would have liked, but we are putting in the effort through the national tutoring programme, the £1.3 billion recovery premium, and the £650 million catch-up premium. That is an awful lot of money going into the system. We are also making sure that teachers are of a high quality, and, most importantly, that they have high-quality mentoring, an initial teaching training round and an early career framework, which give them the support that they need.