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Primary Education News
News Maths and physics graduates may be offered extra £5,000 to enter teaching
Michael Gove says more needs to be done to tackle long-running shortage of specialists in these subjects
The education secretary is considering an extra £5,000 carrot to attract maths and physics graduates into teaching, in an effort to solve the long-running shortage of qualified specialists in crucial subjects.
In a speech at the Policy Exchange on Thursday, Michael Gove will say more needs to be done to fill vacancies for maths and science teachers – and hint at changes to school-based teacher training programmes that have so far had disappointing results.
"We will soon be announcing even greater incentives in shortage subjects, where recruitment has historically been most difficult, and we will do even more to encourage would-be teachers to study maths and physics at A-level and beyond."
A Department for Education source said: "We are keen to continue attracting the best maths and physics graduates. It is important that we are offering the incentives to ensure that we can do that. That is why we are considering increasing bursaries for high-class recruits in these subjects by £5,000. We also need new ways to get those with maths and physics A-levels teaching."
Paying tribute to teachers as "the critical guardians of the intellectual life of the nation", Gove revealed: "Above my desk at home there's a simple slogan: If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher."
The two largest teaching unions, NASUWT and the NUT, are on Thursday likely to announce further industrial action, with the possibility of strikes this autumn.
The £5,000 increase in training bursaries would come on top of the government's most recent efforts to recruit specialist maths and physics graduates.
"We've also done a lot to deal with the systematic shortages of specialist maths and physics teachers that we inherited," Gove is to say, noting recent deals with the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Mathematics to offer scholarships worth £20,000, and the introduction of new training bursaries of up to £20,000 for high-flying graduates.
The same rise in pupil numbers that is putting pressure on school places is also making teacher recruitment more critical to cope with the extra numbers filling England's classrooms.
While the new School Direct programme – which places student teachers directly in schools for training – has been a success in attracting applications, with 22,000 applying for 10,000 places, it has been less successful in recruiting qualified applicants for physics, chemistry and maths teaching to meet future demand.
Gove is to tell his audience: "As schools take more control over training the next generation of teachers, many of the best academy chains and teaching school alliances are now playing an even greater role as accredited SCITTs, School Centred Initial Teacher Training providers.
"We want to see their numbers increase, enabling more aspiring teachers than ever before to benefit from the expertise and experience of some of the best in the business – so we will be bringing forward proposals to support this later in the year."
Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said: "Michael Gove is undermining teacher professionalism by allowing unqualified teachers to teach in schools on a permanent basis. This is bad for school standards. He should introduce Labour's qualified teacher guarantee, committing to a qualified teacher in every classroom."
While School Direct may be struggling, new research shows that the charity Teach First – which recruits high-flying graduates from leading universities directly into teaching in schools – has had a positive impact.
The paper found that a student taking eight GCSE subjects benefitted by around one higher grade overall if there were Teach First recruits working in the school, compared with schools without such teachers.
The work, led by Rebecca Allen at the Institute of Education, said: "The possible damage of inexperience of the Teach First participants appears to be more than outweighed by the gains."
Gove praised the charity, saying: "Teach First helps get some of our brightest graduates into some of our most challenging classrooms. We are committed to supporting the charity in its efforts to reach more schools."
Modelled on the US non-profit Teach for America, Teach First aims to recruit graduates for five years and offers on-the-job training, placing its trainees in schools in the poorest areas of England and Wales. Around half of all Teach First entrants stay on in the profession, and this year the organisation recruited 1,200 trainees.