Skip to main content

Teacher Shortages

Volume 628: debated on Monday 11 September 2017

There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before. The vacancy rate remains low at 0.3% of all teachers and secondary post-graduate recruitment is at its highest level since 2011. However, we recognise that some schools face challenges, which is why we continue to invest in teacher recruitment—more than £1.3 billion up to 2020. In addition, our work in the 12 opportunity areas will ensure teacher recruitment and retention challenges are addressed.

That is a very complacent answer. The Secretary of State’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), said that the public sector pay cap is having a clear impact on recruitment and retention. Does the Minister agree with his right hon. Friend that the policy makes it harder to recruit the teachers we need?

We rely on the expertise of the School Teachers Review Body. It reported in July and we responded to that review. It has recommended increasing the pay bands in the main pay range by 2%, and by 1% for the remaining pay bands. Pay is of course important, but it is not the only factor that drives teachers in or out of the profession. Others include workload and pupil behaviour, and we also take those issues seriously.

We have generous tax-free bursaries, which we use imaginatively, and we reflect the challenges of recruiting the best graduates into teaching. Bursaries of up to £25,000 are available for graduates in those priority subjects.

I have previously exhorted the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) to circulate his textbook on succinct questions. It is now timely that he should do so.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith) made a very good point, and the School Teachers Review Body, the Education Select Committee and the Secretary of State’s predecessor have all said that pay has contributed to the crisis in teacher recruitment, but—notably—not the Prime Minister. Last week, our research showed that the Government’s freeze and cap on public sector pay has left the average teacher more than £5,000 a year worse off. Will the Secretary of State get the cap lifted for schools or is she telling us that nothing has changed?

We rely on the expertise of the School Teachers Review Body and the extensive and thorough review carried out by it. It has made recommendations, which we have accepted, that the main pay bands should increase by 2%—the minimum and maximum—and that the bands for more senior teachers should increase by 1%.

There are 15,500 more teachers today than when Labour left office in 2010. We are meeting 93% of the target of recruiting graduates into teacher training. More returners are coming back into teaching in 2016 than in 2011, and more people came into teaching than left last year.