Support for new teachers is key to recruitment strategy

An Ofsted hotline, a match-making service for teacher job shares and simplified applications also feature in strategy

John Roberts

Education secretary Damian Hinds has unveiled his Recruitment and Retention Strategy for the teaching profession

More support for teachers at the start of their careers and a reduction in workload are at the heart of a major new government strategy to improve recruitment and retention, it was revealed today.

The Department for Education has also pledged to simplify the process of applying to become a teacher, to make part-time working easier and to launch a new recruitment campaign.

It has pledged up to £130 million a year for an Early Career Framework with a two-year support package to help keep new teachers in the profession.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “This ambitious strategy commits to supporting teachers – particularly those at the start of their career – to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in their classrooms.

"In a competitive graduate labour market, we must continue to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession so we can train and retain the next generation of inspirational teachers.”

Boosting teacher recruitment and retention

Plans in the recruitment and retention strategy include:

  • Introducing a new one-stop application system to make it simpler to apply for initial teacher training;
  • Helping schools to introduce flexible working through a new match-making service for teachers seeking a job-share;
  • Developing specialist qualifications and non-leadership career routes for teachers that want to stay in the classroom;
  • Launching a new "Discover Teaching" initiative to get more people into the profession;
  • Creating a new Ofsted hotline so heads can report if inspectors are adding to their workload.
     

The strategy also includes plans to simplify the school accountability system by removing floor and coasting standards and making an Ofsted judgement of "requires improvement" the trigger for schools to receive support.

Mr Hinds revealed that he was scrapping floor and coasting standards last year when he also announced that only an Ofsted rating of "inadequate" would result in forced academisation.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said: “This strategy will see positive changes to the accountability system, removing the floor and coasting standards and making 'requires improvement' the single trigger for an offer of support.

"This will free school leaders to concentrate on what matters most, and that's delivering for pupils."

Reducing teacher workload

The DfE said today that its reforms of the accountability system were part of a plan to reduce teacher workload.

It also plans to help school leaders strip away unnecessary tasks and work with Ofsted to ensure that staff workload is considered as part of a school inspection judgement.

Mr Hinds said: “When I took this job a year ago, I made championing teachers my number one priority. Over the past year, I have worked with Ofsted and the unions to bear down on workload.

“I think teachers work too many hours – aggravated by unnecessary tasks like excessive marking and data entry, spending more than half their time on non-teaching tasks.

“But those who choose to become teachers choose to do so to inspire young people, support their development and set them up for a bright future – not stay late in the office filling in a spreadsheet.”

The DfE plans have been welcomed by leaders across the sector today.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “We wholeheartedly support the government's recruitment and retention strategy, and want to play our part by ensuring teaching is a career people want to join and stay in.

"Our new inspection framework supports this aim, and we believe it will reduce teacher workload.

"Ultimately, this will mean teachers can focus their energy on giving pupils a good curriculum that is well taught.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the launch of the Early Career Framework, which he said "has the potential to be a game-changer".

He added: "By providing teachers with support and development during the first few years of their career and helping them to flourish in the classroom, it can help to raise the status of teaching to where it deserves to be: as a life-enhancing vocation."

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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