Trainee teachers with bursaries less likely to teach

More than 20 per cent of trainees who got bursaries in 2017-18 were not teaching in the state sector 16 months later

Teacher retention: Trainee teachers who receive bursaries are less likely to remain in the profession, research suggests

More than one in five teaching trainees who received a bursary dropped out of the profession within 16 months of qualifying, new figures reveal.

Provisional employment rate statistics released today by the Department for Education (DfE) show that 19 per cent of newly qualified teachers who trained during 2017-18 were not teaching in state schools 16 months later.

And they also reveal that those teachers who were eligible for up to £30,000 in government bursary funding were less likely to be teaching than average –with 21 per cent not in a state classroom 16 months on.

Of the 10,908 trainees eligible for bursaries in 2017-18, 10,089 were awarded QTS and 8,009 (79 per cent of those with QTS) were teaching in the state sector, according to the provisional data.


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As many as one in four physics trainees (28 per cent), who would be eligible for up to £30,000 in bursary funding at the time of qualifying, were not teaching.

Meanwhile, nearly half (49 per cent) of all classics trainees dropped out of the profession – after receiving up to £25,000 for their studies.

Tackling the teacher retention problem

The way the government distributes bursary funding has recently changed.

Last year, the DfE introduced new phased maths bursaries, whereby teachers get an upfront payment of £20,000 in their training year and payments of £5,000 in both their third and fifth year of teaching.

The department is now planning to extend this approach as part of its new teacher recruitment and retention strategy.

In addition, thousands of maths and physics teachers around the country are to receive two £2,000 bonuses to encourage them to stay in the profession. Maths and physics teachers in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as in Opportunity Areas around the country, will receive the grant during the first five years of their careers.

Backed by a £10 million investment set aside from last year’s Budget, the two-year pilot will test whether this is an effective way to encourage these teachers to remain in the profession.

Eligible teachers will have their payments issued to them in the autumn terms of 2019 and 2020. They will receive a single payment in each year. 

A DfE spokesperson said: “We want teaching to remain an attractive profession to join, which is why we recently pledged to raise salaries for new teachers to £30,000 by 2022/23 and this year, teachers and heads can receive a pay rise of 2.75 per cent – above current rates of inflation.

"We have also launched the Early Career Framework to ensure newly qualified teachers are provided with early career support and development, including mentoring.”

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