Analysis: Is recruiting 25k new teachers possible?

Election 2019: Are Labour's new promises on education affordable and feasible? Dave Speck analyses the plans

Election 2019: Are Labour's education plans feasible and affordable?

Labour today says it would recruit 25,000 extra teachers over the next four years.

But what makes the party think it will have any more recruitment success than the current government, which last week revealed that it had failed to hit its own target for trainees for the seventh year in a row?

The teaching profession might seem more appealing with an immediate 5 per cent pay rise for all teachers, should Labour come to power.

And a source close to shadow education secretary Angela Rayner also told Tes that the party’s plans to “address the current accountability system” (ie, abolish Ofsted) would be a factor – as would the recruitment of more teaching assistants and support staff, who would “lighten the load” for teachers.

Quick read: Labour pledges 25,000 extra teachers within four years

Teacher recruitment: DfE misses its own teacher training recruitment targets

Labour manifesto:  5% for teachers and £10.5bn for schools

In fact, in a statement today, Labour says there will actually be an extra 50,000 qualified teachers in schools within the next four years.

Labour promise of extra teachers

But that includes around 25,000 unqualified teachers (currently working mostly in academies and free schools) who will be fully trained in-school during that time.

And just as the Conservatives, as part of their own election campaign, were accused of double-counting the number of extra nurses they would introduce in the next four years (because the figure included the number that would be retained by improved conditions), Labour may also be running the same risk here in that the number of extra teachers includes staff who are already in the system.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet), disagreed, because, he said, the nurses are already qualified, but these unqualified teachers would receive "proper training" so it would "be a bit different".

He said: "It's laudable to help unqualified teachers to get QTS (qualified teacher status). There's no legal requirement for teachers in academies to have it, but we've always said that was a mistake."   

Mr Noble-Rogers agreed that the key to teacher recruitment was pay and conditions, and said Labour's plans were "do-able if they put the resources in".

But he said there was also a need to reform the bursaries systems, including the introduction of bursaries for primary teachers, in order to get more teachers.

He also said there was a need to extend the Early Career Framework so that all teachers, whatever stage in their career,  can undertake long-term professional development. Neither reform is mentioned in Labour's plans. 

Like the Conservatives with their pledge of an extra £14 billion for schools, Labour has also been accused of double counting when it comes to its own figure of £25 billion, which actually amounts to £10.5 billion once double and triple counting is removed (while the Tories’ amount comes to £7.1 billion).

But the extra teachers and teacher pay generally will end up taking up a considerable chunk of this money.

Labour estimates that only around £1 billion of its extra funding will have been swallowed up by 2023-34 in the cost of 20,000 extra teachers (including their salaries and pensions costs).

And it says the cost of training 25,000 unqualified staff would be at least £550 million over five years, with an increased wage bill of £220 million in that time.

And all of that is without considering the 5 per cent immediate pay rise for all teachers – that’s around half a million people – as well as their rising pension costs 



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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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