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Bursary reforms to reward teachers who stay

DfE plans to shift 40 per cent of the payments to teachers who stay in the profession

Bursary funding to spent retaining teachers

DfE plans to shift 40 per cent of the payments to teachers who stay in the profession

Bursary payments for teachers are going to be reformed to reward people who stay in the profession, as part of the government's new plan to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis.

The Department for Education has admitted that the current system is “too squarely” focused on recruitment with up front payments.

It is planning to overhaul spending so that 40 per cent of the money awarded is given to teachers who stay in the job with larger bursaries for those working in the most challenging schools.

This follows warnings that money was being spent on bursaries for attracting teachers in subjects with some of the highest rates of people leaving the profession.

Last year, the DfE introduced new phased maths bursaries, in which teachers get an upfront payment of £20,000 in their training year and payments of £5,000 in both their third and fifth year of teaching.

Now the department is planning to extend this approach as part of its new teacher recruitment and retention strategy.

The strategy says: “Once these reforms have taken place we expect that around 40 per cent of bursary spend in phased subjects will be on retention, marking a fundamental shift in bursary policy to support both recruitment and retention.

“Importantly, in making this change we will also ensure that retention payments for all phased bursaries are weighted such that they are higher for teachers working in more challenging schools. This will create a system that works to more naturally attract and retain good teachers in the schools that need them most.”

Currently, bursaries of £26,000 are available to eligible candidates training to teach physics, chemistry, languages, computing, geography, biology and classics.

Smaller bursaries are available for English, design and technology, history, music, religious education and primary with maths.

In 2017 the thinktank Reform called for the government to replace the up-front lump sums it uses to attract new teachers to prevent “bursary tourists”.

It suggested the DfE should introduce retention rewards paid through the first years of a new teacher's career.

Louis Coiffait, who was then head of education at Reform, raised concerns about large bursaries used to recruit top graduates to teach key subjects at the ResearchED annual conference that year.

He said: “The higher bursary levels up above £20,000 for languages, maths, sciences – they are the ones with the highest exit rates. That might be to do with competing careers, we don’t really know any detail, but our answer still is to just keep throwing money at these people.”


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