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Millions pledged to allow more teachers to take sabbaticals

DfE will also research more flexible teacher working hours and involve unions in developing a recruitment and retention strategy

Sabbatical rebel

DfE will also research more flexible teacher working hours and involve unions in developing a recruitment and retention strategy

A £5 million fund to support more teachers to take sabbaticals is being announced by the Department for Education today.

The money might allow teachers to take a year out working in an industry relevant to their subject, the DfE says. It would pay for relatively few sabbaticals but Tes understands that this is for a pilot that could then be expanded.   

Education secretary, Damian Hinds, will also unveil a research project aimed at introducing more flexible hours for teachers and a working group with unions to develop his department's teacher recruitment and retention strategy.

The announcements are likely to be well received by his audience at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference in Liverpool.

Members were already due to call for teachers to be given sabbaticals to stop them burning out and remain motivated to stay in the profession.

The union was expected to debate a resolution on the issue at the conference. The motion's proposer, Kevin Baskill, said: "It seems like a simple idea, but I think it would help to change the culture, and to value the profession."

Mr Baskill, a retired primary school leader, said that early in his career as a primary teacher he had been given the chance to work in early years education, taking a course that "completely changed my sense of direction and what I thought was important".

He became a reception teacher, went into nursery education, he said, adding that "it changed how I focused my priorities when I became a primary head".

Mr Baskill, who is the NAHT's London regional secretary, said that as a headteacher he had noticed there were senior leaders who were not interested in headship, and that many of them ended up leaving the profession.

As an example, he suggested that teachers could be given the opportunity after seven years in the profession "to do something away from the chalkface, just to recharge, do professional development".

Mr Baskill added: "Think of the money that's spent on TV adverts, teacher training, even adverts on the sides of roads now. There's a desperation to get new teachers.

"We ought to be thinking about how we keep the talent in teaching."

He said that while money was important, teachers also needed to feel valued and that there was "someone looking after them".



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