Press release

Government sets out plans to attract the best graduates into teaching

Top graduates will be attracted into the teaching profession to help drive up standards in schools, under new plans published.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
  • Attracting the best graduates with incentives of up to £20,000
  • Best schools to work with universities to lead on teacher training
  • New £2 million scholarship scheme to help existing teachers develop

Top graduates will be attracted into the teaching profession to help drive up standards in schools, under new plans published today.

Despite having many excellent teachers, trained in some of the best institutions in the world, other nations are racing ahead in school improvement.

The Government is committed to raising the status of the profession, in the bid to make it a highly attractive career for top graduates.

There has also been a longstanding problem recruiting the high quality maths and science teachers we need.

We know that:

  • South Korea recruits teachers from the top five per cent of graduates and Finland from the top 10 per cent.
  • Only two per cent of the highest achieving graduates from our top universities train to become teachers on graduating.
  • Independent research shows the difference high quality teachers make. An eight-year-old taught by a top performing teacher can make as much as two year’s additional progress by the time they reach 11, compared to a pupil with a low performing teacher.
  • Last year we recruited around 260 fewer trainees to physics initial teacher training courses and 80 fewer chemistry trainees than we needed.
  • The Institute of Physics have also said we need to recruit around 1000 new specialist physics teachers each year for 15 years to plug the gap.

The Initial Teacher Training Strategy sets out plans to build on the strengths of the existing system, as well as addressing some important weaknesses.

The proposals cover:

  • Offering high quality graduates including science and maths specialists significantly better financial incentives to train as teachers - up to £20,000 for graduates with first class honours degree. Trainees will receive the bursary in monthly instalments in their training year, as currently happens. They currently only receive bursaries of up to £9000.
  • Offering financial incentives to all trainees with at least a 2:2 so that teacher training continues to be attractive, whilst having graduates with excellent subject knowledge. Graduates with a third class degree will not be barred from teaching but will not receive government funding for their training.
  • Requiring all trainees to have high standards of mathematics and English by having to pass tougher literacy and numeracy tests before they start training. Candidates who fail one or both of the skills tests at the first attempt will be limited to two re-sits for each test. Currently they only take the tests after starting their training course and they are allowed unlimited re-sits. New figures show that one in five trainees fail either of the basic tests first time round.
  • Allowing and encouraging schools, often working as groups or chains, to lead their own high quality initial teacher training in partnership with a university. Around 100 outstanding schools are expected to become ‘Teaching Schools’ this September. Together with their partners, they will lead the training and professional development of teachers and headteachers.
  • Giving schools, as prospective employers, a stronger influence over the content of ITT training as well as the recruitment and selection of trainees. Teachers consistently identify two specific weaknesses in the initial training they have received: being able to confidently teach reading effectively, including using systematic synthetic phonics, and how to manage pupil behaviour.
  • Continuing to subject ITT provision to quality controls that focus on the quality of placements and selection.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State, said:

If we want to have an education system that ranks with the best in the world, then we need to attract the best people to train to teach, and we need to give them outstanding training.

We have some excellent teachers in this country, but many who could make a huge difference in the lives of children choose other professions. Our teachers are trained in some of the best institutions in the world, but the schools which employ these teachers do not get enough of a say in how they are trained. Nor does the training focus sharply on the techniques teachers most need, such as behaviour management and the effective teaching of reading.

We value our teachers highly, but the current system of funding does not incentivise the best. The system needs to change.

Stephen Hillier, Chief Executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) said:

The TDA welcomes the Government’s ambitious plans for improving teacher recruitment and training.

The proposals will greatly enhance our ability to recruit the very best graduates into teaching, especially in subjects where demand is high. They will create a significant shift towards schools taking more responsibility for recruiting and training the next generation of teachers, within strong university/school partnerships, ensuring that the quality of training offered by universities and schools is as high as possible.

Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, said:

The quality of teacher education is one of the major determinants of the effectiveness of an education system. Across the world, high performing education systems have paid attention to their teacher education systems. We know a great deal about how to design and deliver outstanding teacher education: it involves schools and universities working as co-equal partners, defining together the way they will shape the teaching profession.

We look forward to further developing our work with our partners in schools to ensure the children get the best prepared teachers.

The strategy is now for public discussion and the final strategy being published later this summer. The new system is planned to come into effect from September 2011, with most changes affecting new trainee teachers starting in September 2012.

Scholarship scheme launched

Ministers today have also launched a new £2 million scholarship scheme for existing teachers.

The Coalition Government firmly believes that the quality of teachers and their professional development are enormously important. That is why, as set out in the Schools White Paper, the Government is committed to developing a strong culture of professional development where more teachers acquire postgraduate qualifications and are supported to progress further academically to deepen their subject knowledge.

The new scheme will be open to all qualified teachers. The maximum scholarship value will be £3500 but the value of each award will vary depending on the type of activity funded. Around £2 million has been allocated for 2011/12 and we expect similar funding in the future.

Scholarships will only be awarded where applications are judged to be of sufficient merit. This will determine the number of scholarships awarded. The first round of the scholarship scheme will be awarded in December 2011 and be based on the following criteria:

  • priority subjects/specialism - to include maths, English, science and Special Educational Needs;
  • support from school - teachers will be required to demonstrate support from their school in terms of accessing resources and being able to carry out activities within and outside the school; and
  • level and type of scholarship activity - encourages serving teachers to pursue knowledge independently to Masters level and beyond.

Around 50 per cent of the scholarships will be awarded for SEN and the remaining split between the three priority subject areas.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Most high-prestige scholarship schemes are characterised by their limited size and competitiveness. They have high status within their respective professions and are highly sought after. This scheme will be no different.

Scholarships will be awarded against stringent criteria to teachers who have the potential to make a significant contribution to the country’s intellectual heritage through the acquisition of deeper subject knowledge. We believe this will have a positive and sustainable impact on the culture of professional development in schools and children’s education.

The scheme will be administered by the Training and Development Agency for Teachers (TDA). Further details about the scheme and how to apply can be found on the training and development section of the Department for Education website.

Notes for editors

The Initial Teaching Training Strategy document is available in the publications section.

There is further information in the Schools White Paper including the Case for Change document which details international evidence on teacher quality and recruitment.

DfE media enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300


Updates to this page

Published 27 June 2011