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Teachers should work in disadvantaged schools before qualifying as headteachers, commission urges

Report calls for schools in disadvantaged areas to be given money to help teachers rent or buy a home

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Teachers should not be able to qualify as a headteacher unless they have taught in a school in a disadvantaged area, a cross-party report has urged.

The Commission on Inequality in Education, chaired by former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, found that pupils in poorer areas are falling behind those from richer homes.

Its report, released today, highlights big differences between teachers in richer and poorer areas.

It says that in schools with more affluent children, 12 per cent of teachers have more than 10 years of experience, while the poorest have 7 per cent.

It also finds that pupils in schools serving areas of higher deprivation are more likely to have teachers who do not have an academic degree in a relevant subject, and who are more likely to move jobs.

It says that ensuring a teacher has been in middle leadership in a school in a disadvantaged area before they could gain the headteacher qualification would encourage teachers to spend time in disadvantaged schools.

The report also calls for schools in disadvantaged areas to be given money to help teachers rent or buy a home, to help the recruit and retain good staff.

Mr Clegg told Tes: “We made that recommendation because some of the alternative ideas that have been fielded to deal with the recruitment and retention problems don’t really bear much scrutiny. Pay differential has been fielded in the past as a possible way forward, but we know you would have to make the pay differential huge to have an incentive effect.

“The evidence we gathered was that the cost of housing, in particular, was a bigger disincentive for teachers.”

The report also calls for homework contracts between schools and parents.

These would commit teachers to setting high-quality homework, and parents to ensuring it is completed, as well as having regular contact with the school to discuss progress.

Asked whether such contracts would work in practice, Mr Clegg cited the example of Michaela Community School in Wembley, sometimes dubbed the strictest in England, which was recently graded “outstanding” by Ofsted.

He said: “There are some pretty exacting expectations on parents, many of whom come from very disadvantaged backgrounds, and it can lead to tension and debate between teachers and parents at times, but it seems to have had a very positive effect on children in a very mixed socio-economic context.”

Other members of the commission are Conservative MP Suella Fernandes, who is chair of governors at Michaela, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, Becky Allen of Education Datalab, and Sam Freedman of Teach First.

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