Teachers in England offered cash incentives and flexible hours to stay in the profession
England's new national strategy aims to boost teacher numbers. Source: Shutterstock

UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds has unveiled a new national strategy to recruit and retain teachers in English schools, encouraging them to stay in the profession with flexible work hours and cash incentives.

The move comes as teachers across the country have been leaving the profession in droves. The Department for Education (DfE) notes in a report titled, Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategythat by 2025, there will be 15 percent more pupils in English secondary schools than there were in 2018.

“We will need to increase secondary teacher numbers to meet this demand,” it said.

Some new measures in the teaching reform include the establishment of the Early Career Framework, backed by at least £130 million a year in extra fundingwhile a £42 million Teacher Development Premium investment has also been pledged.

Hinds noted that: “This ambitious strategy commits to supporting teachers – particularly those at the start of their career – to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in their classrooms.

“In a competitive graduate labour market we must continue to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession so we can train and retain the next generation of inspirational teachers. Working with teachers, school leaders, trusts and unions, this strategy will help to support teachers to do what they do best – teach,” he said.

Meanwhile, the process of becoming a teacher will be simplified and incentives will be offered to teachers working in more challenging schools. The DfE has pledged to introduce “a new one-stop application system to make applications easier for would-be teachers and making it easier for more people to experience classroom teaching.”

The DfE noted that one of the pain points for many teachers is the pressure of their workload, potentially distracting them from teaching. Hinds said, “I think teachers work too many hours – aggravated by unnecessary tasks like excessive marking and data entry, spending more than half their time on non-teaching tasks.

“But those who choose to become teachers chose to do so to inspire young people, support their development and set them up for a bright future – not stay late in the office filling in a spreadsheet.”

The DfE plans to reduce teachers’ workloads by helping school leaders strip away unnecessary tasks such as data entry; simplifying the accountability system to clarify when a school may be subject to intervention or offered support; and working with Ofsted to ensure staff workload is considered as part of a school’s inspection judgement.

Meanwhile, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Teachers are the lifeblood of our schools but far too many currently leave the profession too early in their careers, and we simply must do more to put the joy back into teaching.

“The Early Career Framework has the potential to be a game-changer. By providing teachers with support and development during the first few years of their career and helping them to flourish in the classroom, it can help to raise the status of teaching to where it deserves to be: as a life-enhancing vocation.”

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