Improve schools by helping good teachers with housing costs, report recommends

13th April 2016 at 00:30
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High-performing school staff should be given 'mortgage deposit support' to help them buy homes, a new report on the state of the education system says

The report from an alliance of teaching unions, universities and other education organisations makes the recommendation as it concludes that good schooling in England is still "patchy" and more needs to be done to ensure all children, especially those from poorer backgrounds, get a decent education.

The proposal to help teachers with their house deposits – to encourage their "long-term commitment" to an area –  has been welcomed by a headteachers' association, which said the move could help to attract staff to teach in difficult areas.

The state-of-the nation report card, published by the Fair Education Alliance (FEA), says more action is needed, such as an overhaul of careers guidance and more work by schools to promote student wellbeing.

In 2014, the alliance published five national targets to be achieved by 2022, to help close the gap in opportunities and achievement between rich and poor children.

These goals included narrowing the gap in literacy and numeracy achievement in primary schools.

At GCSE level, it wanted to ensure that young people develop key strengths such as character and good mental health. It also wanted to close the gap between rich and poor students graduating from university.

The latest report looks at the progress made against these targets. It finds that, despite some improvements, progress has been largely static.

Excellence in state system

In a foreword to the report, FEA chairman Sir Richard Lambert says the latest report card shows that some schools and regions are succeeding in providing a high quality education for pupils, irrespective of background, and this is to be celebrated.

"More parents who can afford to make the choice are now choosing to send their children to state schools, many more of which are featuring in the lists of the nation's top performers," he says.

"But the big picture is still much too patchy. Progress is uneven, and in some cases non-existent. And the report card shows that inequality is not just the result of income differentials.

"There is also a geographic divide between good and bad outcomes.

"On the current trajectory, the targets that we have set for reducing inequality in the school and higher education system by 2022 will not be achieved.

"That would leave another generation of young people condemned to second-class schooling through no fault of their own. So we have to redouble our efforts."

The alliance calls for a number of other reforms to help boost standards and close the achievement gap, including investment in early years education and ensuring that all schools have access to good examples of top quality teaching and leadership.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The Fair Education Alliance’s suggestion of a mortgage deposit scheme as an incentive to attract teachers to an area is an innovative approach which we welcome.

“Schools across the country are experiencing significant difficulties in recruiting teachers and this is particularly acute in the most challenging areas. More must be done to attract people into teaching in general and in particular into these areas".

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