Provide bursaries for other subjects to boost recruitment

The Education Committee has released a report on teacher recruitment and retention, calling on the government to provide new funding for bursaries so that some shortage subjects don't lose out to those where higher bursaries are already offered.

The report follows Department for Education (DfE) statistics showing that despite record absolute numbers in teaching, the Department severely missed targets for recruiting teachers in key subjects. The cross-party Committee has also heard worrying evidence about teachers taking classes outside of their subject specialism while vacancies go unfilled, and some schools dropping subjects entirely.
Targets for recruitment onto initial teacher training courses were missed in 10 subjects in 2022/23. Among the lowest recruitment levels were: business studies (15.9%), physics (17.3%), music (27.3%), D&T (27%), modern foreign languages (34%) and computing (36%). There are also challenges in retention with behaviour, better pay and flexibility in other sectors and workload cited as reasons that too many teachers leave the profession.

The report says that bursaries available to those who complete their teacher training should continue to be targeted at subjects worst affected by shortages. However, there is a risk that low or non-bursary subjects are losing out to subjects where bursaries are offered. To minimise this, low bursaries should be introduced or increased. 
Education Committee Chair Robin Walker MP said: “We make a number of recommendations to the Government to provide new funding for bursaries so that some shortage subjects don't lose out to those where higher bursaries are already offered. Doing so would enable all subjects to compete against other industries for talented graduates. We also recommend the expansion of retention payments such as the Early Career Payment and Levelling up Premium, specifically to help the sector hold on to graduates of STEM subjects.
“Ministers need to rethink the recent, short sighted cuts to programmes that promoted career development and different routes into the profession. Without them we will keep on missing targets for recruiting specialist teachers in nearly every subject – forcing more teachers to take on classes outside of their specialism and thereby undermining the quality of education children receive. Funding for these programmes will represent a small fraction of the overall spend on the school workforce and represent value for money."
With regards to teacher recruitment, the report says that the DfE’s Workload Reduction Toolkit, published in 2019, has been underused and received poor feedback from those that did. The Toolkit needs to be simplified and revised to ensure its relevance. The Government should also help schools implement recommendations from its Workload Reduction Taskforce and review progress by Spring 2025.
It also says the joint update from DFE and Ofsted, that the Workload Reduction Taskforce recommendation should be published without delay. Further effort to reduce the accountability related workload should be made and continually monitored.

Read the full report here.

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