"Far too many" teachers are leaving the profession within five years of joining, Gavin Williamson admitted today.
The education secretary says he hopes the problem can be combatted with the improved training that he revealed would be "central" to the Covid catch-up plan he is drawing up with education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins.
Mr Williamson's comments (which can be seen here), were made in a pre-recorded message to the NASUWT teaching union annual conference which heard this morning of a need to "reclaim" classrooms from poor pupil behaviour.
The education secretary told the online conference: “I know far too many teachers leave within the first five years of joining the profession."
He added: “Every teacher who leaves the profession is a loss that we can ill afford.
"After all the disruption to our schools, including to teacher training over the past year, investing in our next generation of teachers, and enabling them to deliver high-quality teaching to inspire and motivate a new generation, is more important than ever and crucial to our long-term recovery plans.
"It is also central to closing the attainment gap, which the pandemic has cruelly exposed between disadvantaged pupils and their peers."
Mr Williamson said the government needed to go “further faster” to improve professional training for all teachers.
He said: “This will be central to the recovery plan that I am working on with Sir Kevan Collins [the education recovery commissioner], and while I do not want to pre-empt his findings, let me say I am confident this is going to feature strongly.”
Mr Williamson spoke of “career-long development from trainee teacher through to executive headship.”
He spoke of training opportunities - from the early career framework reforms “backed by £130m per year when fully rolled out” to the new National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for teachers and leaders being launched in September.
“The single most important factor in schooling, the one that everything hinges on is always the quality of teaching," he said.
"We know that the teacher stood at the front of the classroom is the key ingredient that makes the greatest impact on all of our children.”
Mr Williamson also thanked teachers for the “inspiring way” they switched to remote learning during the pandemic.
He said: “And I want to thank you for the huge lengths you have gone to, to keep everyone in your school and wider community safe.
"This has involved overseeing some important safety measures, such as lateral flow tests, which have enabled all our school children and students to return to classrooms after this latest lockdown.”
He added: “I’ve said before that people now have a far greater appreciation of what you all do for our children. They have seen the way you have risen to the numerous challenges that Covid has caused.
"These challenges are not over by a long chalk but I want you to know that I am always ready to work with you when they arise and I am confident that between us we are going to emerge stronger, more resilient and better equipped to deliver a world-class education for all our children as a result."