The government could change planning regulations to make it easier for schools to build housing for teachers on surplus land.
The proposal is included in the Department for Education’s flagship Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published today.
“We know that housing is an issue for teachers in areas of short supply," it says. “We will explore whether there is demand from teachers for new homes on surplus school land.
“If there is clear and sufficient demand, we will work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to explore whether an extension of permitted development rights is needed to speed up such developments.”
Permitted development rights allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application.
The move follows calls for action to provide affordable housing for teachers in high-cost areas, such as London.
Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation of academies, has previously told Tes that “if someone doesn’t do something, there will be no public sector workers left in London”.
Housing costs hit teacher recruitment
Speaking in 2017, he said the federation had commissioned a construction firm which had identified “six or seven” sites where there was land “surplus to the play[ground] requirements” on which housing units could be built.
And last year, Lara Newman, chief executive of the LocatED company, set up by the DfE to buy sites for free schools, told Tes that her organisation was looking at how it could develop housing on sites, “including teacher housing where there's a problem”.
Last year, the Commons Public Accounts Committee highlighted high housing costs in some areas as a major factor causing teacher recruitment and retention problems.
The MPs had asked the DfE “if it had considered using land that it pays for to help provide affordable housing for teachers”.
The committee's report on teaching supply said the DfE responded that “it had had discussions with individual multi-academy trusts and local authorities about such initiatives and was willing to talk to any schools with proposals to support teachers with housing”.
The MPs recommended that the DfE “should set out how it will take account of the housing requirements for teachers, particularly in high-cost areas, in order to support recruitment and retention.
“It should take a more strategic role, particularly as this is an issue that goes across Whitehall, when considering initiatives to support teachers to ensure that funding for these has a real impact.”
Tes has previously reported on the growing number of teachers who are on the verge of homelessness.