Justine Greening reveals plans for 'English hubs', literacy in early years, and student loan reimbursement pilots

Education secretary also promises action to improve alternative provision

Martin George

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The goverment will target a new student loan reimbursement programme in areas and subjects where the teacher recruitment and retention crisis is at its worst.

Justine Greening unveiled the plans this afternoon, on the first day of the Conservative Party's annual conference, in Manchester.

In a speech that covered a wide range of school issues, she also highlighted the maths hubs introduced by the government, and said: "Today I can announce we are now going to invest a further £6 million to put them in more areas where we want them to make the biggest difference. 

"And we will also create a new £12 million network of English Hubs, in the Northern Powerhouse, to further improve early language and literacy."

As well as the extra maths hubs, the DfE said it would pilot "new style" bursaries in maths, with upfront payments of £20,000, and early retention payments of £5,000 in the third and fifth year of their careers.

And it said increased amounts of £7,500 will also be available to encourage the best maths teachers to teach in more challenging schools.

Addressing the teacher recruitment and retention problems, Ms Greening told delegates: "We will invest more than £30 million in tailored support for getting more great teachers in some of the schools that struggle the most with recruitment and retention.

"And we will introduce a pilot student loan reimbursement programme to help attract and retain teachers, and we will target it at the subjects and areas of the country that need them most."

The DfE said this would be for about 1,700 science and 800 modern foreign language teachers a year, "in the early years of their careers".

It said a typical teacher in their fifth year would benefit from about £540 through these reimbursements - but this would be more for teachers with additional responsibilities.

Last month, Ms Greening told Tes that the Conservative manifesto commitment to “offer forgiveness on student-loan repayments while they are teaching” had survived the party's loss of its Commons majority.

And she confirmed plans, revealed by Tes last month, to put more focus on alternative provision.

"I will bring forward proposals to ensure that alternative provision is the best it can be, and that the best practice already there in this field becomes the norm, so that it gives all the young people in it the opportunity to fulfil their potential," she said.

The education secretary also put an emphasis on literacy and numeracy for children before they enter key stage 1.

She told the conference: "I am announcing that the next phase of our £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund will include a new focus on boosting literacy and numeracy during a child’s Reception year."

This echoed proposals in the Tory manifesto for the June 2017 election, which said: "A Conservative government will strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years so that all pupils – regardless of background – get the best possible start in life. We will build on the success of the phonics screening test."

And in its response to its consultation the primary assessment, published in September, the government set out how it wanted to change the early years foundation stage to bring its early learning goals (ELGs) more in line with key stage 1, "particularly for literacy and mathematics".

It said it would "ensure that there is sufficient focus on increasing depth and breadth of vocabulary", and "review and revise the mathematics and literacy ELGs to ensure that they support children to develop the right building blocks for learning at key stage 1."

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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