DfE boss: Failed National Teaching Service done in a 'hurry'

Department for Education permanent secretary admits the money paid to encourage teachers to relocate was insufficient

Will Hazell

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An aborted government programme, which tried to parachute teachers into underperforming schools in the North West, was implemented in a "bit of a hurry", the Department for Education's top civil servant has admitted

Jonathan Slater, the DfE's permanent secretary, also said the National Teaching Service failed because the money paid to encourage teachers to relocate was insufficient and there were not enough schools who wanted to give them jobs.

The idea behind the NTS was to get top teachers into underperforming schools in areas which struggled to recruit, by paying them £10,000 to relocate.

The government eventually hoped to parachute 1,500 outstanding teachers into such schools, but began by piloting the programme with the aim of putting 100 individuals into schools in the North West. 

Scheme abandoned

However, after a Tes freedom of information request, the DfE admitted that the programme attracted just 116 applications, of which 54 were subsequently recruited and 24 matched with schools. The scheme was officially abandoned last December.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon to give evidence on the topic of teacher retention, Mr Slater was asked what the DfE had learned from the NTS debacle.

"What I learned was that it's good to pilot," he replied.

He went on: "One, we found that a £10,000 relocation sum didn't incentivise enough people to move.

"Number two, we found that there were more people wanting to move than there were schools wanting to receive them. So while 24 people were reallocated successfully, there were 29 people who wanted to but the schools in question didn't want to receive them, because of the particular subject specialism, the particular phase, because it's a complicated business."

He then added: "And I suppose the final thing we learned, was we did it in a bit of a hurry, to be honest." 

National Teaching Service lessons

Paul Kett, the DfE's director general for education standards, said the "fundamental learning we've... applied, is instead of trying to move teachers, we should be investing in those teachers in those areas".

Earlier during the hearing, Mr Slater said that the DfE would shortly publish a consultation on strengthening qualified teacher status.

He said this would consider questions such as: "should we have a much clearer framework for what you might as expect as a new teacher to do when, how you might develop?

"What might we do to improve the quality assurance of that CPD – there's a lot of money spent by a lot of schools on things which afterwards they're not happy with – what role might we play, or might an independent provider play, with quality assuring it? 

"What level of entitlement might you give a...teacher after three years or a teacher after five years. How would you incentivise them and the schools to do it?"

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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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