'Some common sense on teacher recruitment - at last'

After leafing through the new recruitment strategy and the Early Careers Framework, Ed Dorrell is pleasantly surprised

The government has launched a new teacher recruitment and retention strategy

Amid the rubble of Brexit, while all around looks desolate, a ray of hope?

In a fairly improbable development, the Department for Education today somehow wrestled the long-awaited Recruitment and Retention Strategy and the Early Careers Framework (ECF) into existence.

These documents have been long in the formulation – and at various stages in the past few weeks have looked likely to become collateral damage as Westminster descends into all-out civil war.

It is a real achievement, therefore, that something so substantive has been published. And it sounds as if there’s a real commitment to new money to fund it, too – in the hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

Extra support for early-career teachers

It’s not like other government departments have been lining up big announcements and spending commitments in recent weeks: No 10 and the Treasury have had their attention very much elsewhere. Education secretary Damian Hinds is to be congratulated.

To be clear, the ECF, which has the potential to give real structure and support to teachers in the first few years of their careers, is better evidenced than just about any DfE document I’ve looked at in more than 10 years, and has cross-sector support, too.

If its supporters are proved correct, it should help to arrest the heavy flow of young teachers out of the profession before they’ve reached maturity.

Similarly, the wider Recruitment and Retention Strategy is meatier than we might have suspected. It contains some really good ideas, including about bursaries, about salary structures and about teacher housing. There is a great deal of common sense present in these pages.

The only element missing, really, is anything that might prove a magic bullet when it comes to teacher supply. Having said that, magic bullets nearly always prove to be just that: at best illusionary.

Common sense, evidence and long-term planning is not something we have come to associate with Westminster politicians in recent years, and so Hinds and the people around him should be given a metaphorical pat on the back.

Let’s hope it works.

Ed Dorrell is the head of content at Tes

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