The Big Question: Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?

The government has announced new measures to recruit and retain teachers in challenging secondary schools by offering £10,000 after three years’ service. It aims to counteract educational underachievement and improve social mobility.

Headteachers will decide which teachers should be given the reward to encourage them to stay and they are likely to take into account how well they performed at training colleges.

The initiative targets 500 “National Challenge” schools where less than a third of children achieve five good GCSEs including maths and English, and there is a significant number of children entitled to free school meals.

The scheme will cover around 6,000 new jobs in England and the costs will be equally divided between the school and central government.

Unions are concerned about the effect on those who do not benefit from the financial reward.

Here are some thoughts from the education community:

“This is fantastic news! The government, local authorities, and schools are finally recognising that there are problems in certain areas and it takes some very special individuals to work there and consequently they must be rewarded. It is long overdue.

“Teachers will be able to move from school to school while doing a good job and this will make the profession more flexible. Just like City people, they will get bonuses for a job well done!”
Nadia Nerom, outreach teacher in a pupil referral unit, secondary, in Hammersmith & Fulham, London.

“£10,000 after three years service - what about staff that have given 30 years service punctuated with dedication, motivation and commitment?
“It is an insult to the teaching profession to single out individual staff in a school when most educational establishments get positive results based on team effort, whole team ethos and a shared concern for the well being of learners and staff.

“By all means reward staff by recognising that a joint approach is required for long term success. In fact a scheme to reward new staff could divide rather than motivate. Also, the pressure on heads to reward could well question their judgement and create a division. What about small schools and differentials and aspects of conditions of service?
Rather than reward the few pay more to the many and maintain a consolidated workforce.”
Dr Len Parkyn. senior teacher, secondary phase-special needs, Vines Cross, East Sussex.

“I am in my third year of teaching and have chosen to work in more challenging schools rather than opting for the leafy suburbs just as near to my home. I have always thought it unfair that rates of pay remain the same for all types of school and know first hand the challenges that such schools face in recruiting and retaining qualified staff (two of the full time teachers in my department are unqualified). However, my school is 0.38% above the minimum 30% 5A*-C including maths and English (last year it was below) and so won’t benefit from the new scheme. This means that this year’s cohort of new recruits will no doubt look to other equally challenging schools that do form part of the scheme while our school finds it increasingly difficult to recruit staff. Having said that, if we were part of the scheme then on a personal level I would feel pretty hard done by to be going without, having always taught in challenging schools.

“It also seems a little worrying that heads will be judging the staff as to whether or not they qualify, given that the school has to foot at least part of the bill. In my view, a far fairer approach would be to apply a weighting across the board similar to the London weightings where teachers at schools with different levels of challenge are offered different levels of salary - year on year. “
Katy Dale, a secondary mathematics teacher in a central Manchester comprehensive

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