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Thinktank calls for retention rewards for new teachers to end "bursary tourism"

Reform warns that DfE's focus on academies means schools are missing out on the benefits of joining larger groups

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Reform warns that DfE's focus on academies means schools are missing out on the benefits of joining larger groups

An influential thinktank has called for the government to replace the up-front lump sums it uses to attract new teachers to prevent “bursary tourists”.

Public service thinktank Reform will instead call for the DfE to introduce retention rewards paid through the first years of a new teacher's career, in a report due to be published this autumn.

Louis Coiffait, head of education at Reform, raised concerns about large bursaries used to recruit top graduates to teach key subjects when he previewed the study at today’s ResearchED annual conference.

He said: “The higher bursary levels up above £20,000 for languages, maths, sciences – they are the ones with the highest exit rates. That might be to do with competing careers, we don’t really know any detail, but our answer still is to just keep throwing money at these people.”

He called for the focus to be switched from recruitment to retention, and he proposed retention rewards that could see a new teacher receive £5,000 for each year they stayed in the profession, instead of up to £30,000 in their training year.

He added: “It’s a way of saying you are rewarded for every year you stay in the profession, and we think five years, based on the evidence, is the sweet spot to aim for in terms of keeping people in the profession because you get better at your job, you enjoy it more, you are less likely to leave.

“We think this will discourage these people called ‘bursary tourists’ who finish university, don’t know what to do, see teaching, see £30,000 and go for it, and a couple of years in go ‘this is really hard’, and then they leave, and they have walked away with £30,000.

“This way, at least they have only walked away with £10,000.”

Mr Coiffait also said the research had found that stand-alone schools were finding teacher recruitment and retention particularly hard, because they could not compete with the CPD and career opportunities provided by groups of schools.

He said it was “not about an academy or a federation, it’s just about being in a big group of schools above a certain level”.

However, two-thirds of schools are not in such groups, he added.

He called for the DfE to be “agnostic about the type of group it promotes; at the moment it is a MAT only policy,” which he said lots of people were still against, leaving them missing out on the benefits of groups.

He added: “In many ways, federations could be the gateway drug”.

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