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Heads call for new 'golden handshake' to attract teachers

Headteachers have called for new financial incentives to encourage people into teaching, including helping to pay off student loans and offering free accommodation in areas that struggle to recruit enough teachers.

The Association of School and College Leaders says the new measures are needed to tackle a “growing teacher recruitment crisis”.

It is calling for high-performing multi-academy trusts to be able to “deploy” good and outstanding teachers to schools in areas with the greatest staff shortages. These teachers should be given a “disruption payment” and their accommodation costs should be paid, the ASCL argues.

The association is calling for teachers’ student loans to be paid off in some cases, “for as many years as eligible teachers remain in state-funded schools”.

It says this incentive could be “targeted [at] the most severe shortage areas or subjects” and would be “a successor to the ‘golden handshake’ acting as an incentive to teach”.

The call comes after TES reported that the Conservatives were considering proposals put forward by thinktank Policy Exhange to help new teachers to repay their student loans.

The ASCL is also calling on the government to consider creating a “safety net” for teacher training providers in areas of the country where recruitment is most difficult. These providers should be allowed to continue despite a shortage of applicants, because their closure would worsen the teacher supply crisis, the union claims.

Brian Lightman, the association’s general secretary, said: “Many schools all over the country report great difficulties in recruiting trainee teachers of the right calibre, newly qualified teachers in specialist subject areas and also recruiting people into more senior posts, especially heads of departments in core subjects.

“It is also particularly difficult to recruit people in challenging schools.”

Research published by the association in December showed that two-thirds of secondary headteachers had been unable to recruit enough maths teachers, while almost half had difficulty recruiting staff in science and English.

The ASCL has published a “route map” that explains the different routes into teaching. It says heads have raised concerns that the complexity of the training system and the “array of routes into the profession” could deter potential candidates.

A statement from the association says it has received anecdotal evidence that would-be teachers have “given up on the application process and taken up jobs as teaching assistants instead”. 

Related stories:

Tories consider plan to pay off teachers' student debt – 6 March 2015

Student loans 'putting off' trainee teachers – 10 November 2014

Teachers 'will never pay off their student loans' and could cost the government £110k each, union claims – 5 November 2013

Recruitment difficulty becomes a ‘nightmare’ – 19 December 2014

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