Prime Minister announces £3,000 ‘levelling up premium’ to incentivise teachers

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Iin his speech [Wednesday 6 October] at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister @BorisJohnson announced a £3,000 ‘levelling up premium’ to entice maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers to take jobs in schools serving disadvantaged areas.

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The Prime Minister is right to highlight the recruitment challenges that many schools are currently facing. However this solution is not ambitious enough, and we also know that similar schemes launched in the past have had very limited impact. The government must be prepared to wrestle with some of the more fundamental problems that are causing the current issues around recruitment and retention in teaching.

“The plans suggested here have not been developed with the benefit of consultation with the education profession. We would urge the Prime Minister to do more to engage with school leaders before making future policy announcements.

“The salaries of teachers and leaders have declined against inflation for the last decade, undermining their real value and making teaching uncompetitive in relation to other professional graduate occupations. The government needs a compelling proposition to encourage entrants to a decades-long professional career in teaching.”

Commenting as Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi talks more (7 Oct) about the ‘levelling up premium’ for maths and science teachers announced by the Prime Minister yesterday, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We’re pleased to hear that the new Education Secretary is taking a pragmatic look at the issues around recruitment and retention of teachers and school leaders.

“We would agree that the best thing to do is to listen to the pay review body for teaching. The salaries of teachers and leaders have declined against inflation for the last decade, undermining their real value and making teaching uncompetitive in relation to other professional graduate occupations.

“We would hope that the government will also be prepared to wrestle with some of the more fundamental problems that are causing teachers and leaders to leave the profession, like the damagingly high levels of accountability and unmanageable workload.”

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:   

“Boris Johnson is right to focus on society’s built-in inequality. But given this stated aim to ‘level up’, he has made a very poor start.   

‘Cutting £20 from Universal Credit that will plunge millions of people into dire straits while ignoring his own education recovery tsar’s recommendation that schools and colleges need £15 billion catch up funding, is the opposite of ‘levelling up’. Increasing levels of child poverty will put paid to any talk of equality and ensuring children and young people achieve their full potential.

‘Introducing a £3,000 premium for maths and science teachers is welcome but ignores the fact that there are teacher shortages across the curriculum. Unreasonable and intensive workload, pay and lack of professional agency is driving teachers from the profession in ever increasing numbers. This must be addressed by the Government urgently. 

‘Guts are not all that is needed to help our country recover from this pandemic. The profession and the families we serve need commitments that go beyond the rhetoric. We need properly funded policies to end child poverty and ensure that our schools and colleges are given the resources so that every child and young person succeeds regardless of their background or where they live.   

‘The Prime Minister said in February that education recovery was a national priority. Eight months later, parents will think that it is about time that he puts the money where his mouth is. All eyes will now turn to the spending review later in the month to see if the Government has ‘the guts’ to invest in education recovery”.  

Kate Green MP 100x100Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to the Prime Minister announcing a recycled policy of a premium for maths and science teachers which the Government had only recently scrapped, said:

 “The Conservatives have no idea how to improve education and outcomes for young people. The premium announced today is a less generous recycling of an old policy that Boris Johnson’s government scrapped just a year ago.

“Under the Conservatives teacher vacancies have more than doubled, school funding will be lower in real terms next year than it was in 2010 and the promised £30,000 teacher starting salary has still not been delivered.

“Labour has set out a clear plan to deliver an excellent education to all with over 6,500 new teachers and ongoing professional training to ensure every child is taught by a highly skilled expert teacher. Combined with professional careers advice and reintroducing compulsory work experience, and embedding digital skills across the curriculum, Labour would ensure every young person leaves school with the skills they need for life.”

Natalie Perera Mar20 100x100Natalie Perera, CEO of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“One of the greatest challenges in education is ensuring that highly qualified teachers are available to schools situated in the most deprived parts of the country. Our research has uncovered severe shortages of teachers in subjects such as maths and physics, especially in disadvantaged areas of the country, where they are far less likely to have a degree in the subject they teach. 

“The government’s move to reinstate targeted payments that aim to get teachers into challenging areas is therefore a welcome move – albeit one that has come late in the day. 

“The government adopted our recommendations in 2019 when it originally introduced the policy, only to scrap it in 2020 – a decision which was very short-sighted given the precarious position of the teacher labour market at the time. 

“While the Prime Minister’s announcement is encouraging, we await further details on how the policy will be targeted, as this will be crucial to its success.”

Salary boosts for new maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers 

Teachers in the early years of their careers will be able to get a salary boost of up to £3,000 tax-free to teach maths, physics, chemistry and computing.

This will support recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the package. It will be available to eligible teachers in the first five years of their careers, and is backed by a commitment of £60 million in funding.

International evidence indicates premiums that deliver a 10 per cent increase in pay could reduce leavers from among early career teachers in shortage subjects by 30 per cent.

Targeted pay incentives for teachers were introduced by the government in 2019 based on EPI recommendations – but were subsequently abandoned in 2020.

EPI called for such targeted payments for teachers to be reinstated in our recent May 2021 report, “Local pay and teacher retention in England“.

Read the original EPI analysis of the 2019 salary supplement scheme below:


Teaching profession is facing acute recruitment and retention challenges 

2nd Mar 2021: EPI has published a new report “Teacher shortages in England: analysis and pay options” examining how teacher shortages and pay levels vary between schools in England.

The new research considers schools and subjects with…

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