Select Committee on Education and Employment First Special Report



Recommendations, Government Responses and Further Government Action (as at 1 December 2000)

SESSION 1997-98

First Report: Teacher recruitment: what can be  done? (HC 262-I)
Published:3 November 1997
Government Reply: Third Special Report, Session 1997-98 (HC 519)
Published:3 February 1998


Government Response

Further Government Action

1. We welcome the Government's commitment to raising standards in schools. However, success will depend in large measure on the quality of the teaching force and ensuring that there are sufficient numbers of able, motivated teachers in post. This in turn means that an adequate number of high-calibre people need to train as teachers each year.

Like the Committee, we see little value in debating whether there is or is not a "crisis" in recruitment to teacher training. We are clear that measures to secure the recruitment of sufficient, high quality entrants—where we can be certain that these will tackle immediate, short-term issues, or lay the foundations for a more thorough-going consideration of routes into teaching—must be a priority for Government. The recruitment figures are continuing to change, and the impact of the new HE funding regime on the timing of students settling their final intentions means that comparisons with recruitment figures at this time last year do not necessarily offer a reliable guide to the actual recruitment position.

A £130m package of measures to improve teacher recruitment was announced by the Government on 27 October 1998. This included "golden hellos" for mathematics and science post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE) trainees and a new network of advisers at regional level. On 30 March 2000, the Government announced the introduction of training salaries of £6,000 for all PGCE trainees: an enhanced system of £4,000 new style "golden hellos" for mathematics, science, modern foreign languages and technology trainees who go on to pass induction and begin teaching in a relevant post in their second year: and an expansion of employment-based routes including the payment of £13,000 to schools for each trainee they take on. On 29 August 2000 the Government announced an expansion of teacher recruitment programmes specifically to help teacher recruitment in London. The Government are also considering how the Starter Home Initiative can be used to help recruitment in London. On 30 October 2000, the Government launched a £7 million teacher recruitment advertising campaign and a new Fast Track programme, aimed at attracting the brightest graduates into teaching. Figures provided by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) in November 2000 show a rise in teacher recruitment for the first time in eight years and a total of over 28,000 trainee teachers recruited so far this year.

2. If such trends continue, it will become increasingly difficult for the education service to meet the challenge of raising standards.

As above

The measures above have already led to a marked increase in the level of applications to postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) courses.

3. Our predecessors accepted that the TTA might be correct in denying that there was a crisis in recruitment, but they concluded that "recruitment to training courses is significantly lower than is required to meet the needs of the teaching force". Our own inquiry leads us to believe that the situation has deteriorated and that the Government must act to prevent serious shortages worsening.

As above

The Government has acted and applications are improving generally, in some subjects markedly.

4. The recruitment situation in schools is difficult and seems likely to get worse. What is happening in teacher training today tells us what will be happening in schools tomorrow. We have already noted concerns about the likely shortfall in the take-up of training places and this will impinge on schools at a time of rising pupil numbers.

As above

As above

5. We conclude that the education service is facing serious problems in recruiting sufficient numbers of good-quality candidates into the profession, particularly in certain key subjects.

As above

As above

6. We welcome the Government's announcement that £10 million is to be found in next year's education budget to alleviate the cost of tuition fees for post-graduate trainee teachers. We look forward to seeing more details of exactly how this undertaking is to be implemented, and seek an assurance from the Government that such support will continue in future years, and be extended to the fourth year of undergraduate courses.

No response

PGCE trainees continue to be exempted from tuition fees.

7. We received a number of suggestions for other ways in which financial support could be made available for trainee teachers (see paragraphs 38-41 above) and we urge the Government to give serious consideration to some of these suggestions.

No response

As above

8. We recommend that the Government examine the TTA's proposals, and similar imaginative ideas, with a view to improving the financial incentives to attract graduates into teaching. Such financial support could, we believe, significantly improve recruitment into teacher training.

We have reflected carefully on the case which the Committee has outlined for spreading the funding currently available for teachers' salaries in their first year of teaching across the final year of training and the first year as a newly-qualified teacher. Such a move would require careful consideration, and we would also want to take the advice of the STRB on this issue, before reaching a final decision.

We shall also continue to consider the case for funding contributors towards the repayment of student loans, for each year that a qualified teacher teaches. However, any firm proposals of this kind would clearly need to be considered within the wider pay and conditions framework laid down by the STRB.

As above

9. We believe that imaginative ways of reducing the non-teaching workload need to be explored. To this end, a thorough analysis of what teachers actually do should be carried out, by the DfEE or perhaps the new GTC, with a view in particular to distinguishing tasks which could more effectively be performed by non-teaching staff.

An important step in addressing some of the perceived pressures on teachers, and presenting a professional image of teaching, is to free teachers from unnecessary bureaucracy and release their time and talent to focus on classroom teaching. With this aim in mind, we published on 16 January the report of the working group we established last year on Reducing the Bureaucratic Burden on Teachers, which included representatives of teachers, governors and local authorities. The report recommended a range of further action to streamline and simplify the administrative demands on teachers. We shall continue to give priority to following up these recommendations.

Around £350m is being made available over the three years 1999-2002 for the recruitment and training of an additional 20,000 teaching assistants in the classroom. The DfEE will also be publishing in the Autumn Guidance how teaching assistants can be managed effectively. This should help to free teachers from much of their non-teaching workload what they were trained to do, to teach Also in June 1998, the DfEE issued Circular 2/98 (Reducing the Bureaucratic Burden on Teachers) to all schools. This listed practical steps that heads, in consultation with their staff, could take to reduce teachers' workloads. At the same time, the DfEE commissioned an ongoing project to demonstrate new and innovative ways to reduce administrative workload in participating schools. In November 1999, the DfEE published a "Cutting Burdens Toolkit", offering schools practical advice to cut bureaucracy and providing examples of good practice derived from the Demonstration Project. The Better Regulation Task Force published a Report: Red Tape Affecting Head Teachers in April 2000. The Government welcomed the report and has accepted most of the recommendations in full. Action to implement the Government response is in train. Beyond the recommendations of the Task Force, the Government has promised to reduce the number of documents it sends automatically to schools by a third and the number of pages by a half from September 2000. To address the particular needs of small schools, the DfEE has established the Small Schools Support Fund and the Administrative Support Fund for Small Schools with a combined value of £80m this year. These will enable small schools to increase administrative support and develop collaborative solutions like shared bursar services. The DfEE now provides a wide range of resources on the internet to help teachers save time. These services will be enhanced in the Autumn with the launch of:

 a. a new teachers' portal to act as gateway to help teachers find official information and approved resources quickly;

 b. the A-Z of school leadership and management, offering succinct, up-to-date, authoritative legal advice on almost 300 topics;

 c. a personalised electronic in-tray for teachers to receive, organise and store official communications from the Department.

10. Government's decision to spend more money on schools should make them better places in which to teach. Better maintained classrooms and laboratories, and more books and IT equipment, for instance, will all help. We recommend that the Government, in deciding its priorities for education spending, take account of the whole school environment, including discipline, pupils' behaviour and the teacher's authority in the classroom.

The Committee acknowledges that the Government's decision to spend more money on schools will make them better places in which to teach. In the longer term, the Department's Comprehensive Spending Review will be examining all aspects of spending on school education, including both the amount which needs to be invested in education and the uses to which it should be put to achieve the best results.

The outcome of the Year 2000 Spending Review means that spending on education and training in England will rise by an average of 5.6 per cent a year in real terms over the three years 2001-02 to 2003-04, and by an average of 6.7 per cent over the four years to 2003-04. It will lead to an increase in UK education spending of just under £12 billion by its final year. Further details of the allocations for schools will be announced in due course but the Government has already indicated that headteachers in England will be provided with £540m in direct funding in 2001-02 to spend on boosting standards in classrooms. This is £240m more than this year and will be sustained with 2.75 per cent increases over the following two years.

11. We expect the local authorities, in making their spending decisions, to take account of the Secretary of State's priorities and to ensure that the additional money announced in the Budget is passed on to schools, so as to allow them to make their own individual spending decisions.

The Government endorses the Committee's recommendation that local authorities, in making their spending decisions, should ensure that the extra money announced in the Budget is passed on to schools, so as to allow them to make their own individual spending decisions.

As above

12. We would encourage local authorities and other local bodies to work in partnership with local schools to develop imaginative and flexible approaches to solving recruitment problems.

We strongly endorse the Committee's encouragement to local authorities and other local bodies to work in partnership with local schools to develop imaginative and flexible approaches to solving recruitment problems. Partnership is as central to teacher supply and recruitment as to all other aspects of raising standards in education.

The TTA now also operates a Recruitment Strategy Managers' network, and funds Regional Recruitment Advisers.

13. We recommend that the TTA, in association with the General Teaching Council when it is established, set minimum levels of academic achievement, in terms of A level point scores, for entrants to ITT courses.

As well as numbers, however, it is also important to ensure that the quality of entrants to teacher training is as high as possible. Like the Committee, we would hope to raise the levels of academic achievement, in terms of A level point scores or equivalent, or degree class for those entering postgraduate courses. We are not, however, persuaded of the case for setting minimum levels beyond the present entry criteria. Academic achievement, as shown by A level points or degree standard is by no means the only measure of a teacher's potential, and we are concerned not to deter potentially good teachers by setting minimum entry requirements at this stage.

The Government has nothing to add.    

14. The Government must revisit the LMS formula and teachers' pay scales to ensure that mature entrants to the profession are not disadvantaged.

We share the Committee's view of the importance of attracting entrants into teaching from the widest possible range of backgrounds, including mature entrants, with experience of other working environments.

In general, it remains the responsibility of governing bodies to meet teachers' pay costs within their budgets, and teachers receive annual increments in respect of their first 7 or 8 years of service until they reach point 9 on the classroom teachers pay scale. Beyond that, teachers will, subject to the statutory pay review body process, be eligible for performance threshold assessment. The performance threshold pay increase of £2,000 will be funded through earmarked grant. All teachers on point 9 will be eligible to apply regardless of age.

15. We believe ways in which more part­time work and job­sharing can be provided should be explored, for two reasons: they may help to make teaching more attractive, particularly to those seeking a career change, or teachers considering a return to the classroom after a break from teaching; and they might give schools greater flexibility in employing extra teaching staff.

We share the Committee's view that employers should consider flexibility arrangements which might encourage more part-time working and job-sharing in teaching and might encourage returners to the classroom. The TTA already runs refresher courses for potential returners to the profession and we expect to see these to continue.

The Government has already announced that it is implementing with effect from 1 September 1997 new arrangements to allow teachers aged 50 to step down from posts of responsibility while protecting their pension. In essence the arrangements provide for pension contributions to be made on the former higher salary, uprated each year in line with the RPI. The primary responsibility for making the additional contributions will rest with the teacher, but we have provided for the employer to have discretion to meet some or all of the cost. The arrangements will apply even when there is a change of employer, and where there is a gap up to 12 months between the employments. We have already had many enquiries from teachers and employers who wish to use these provisions.

Teachers benefit together with other employees from the measures on work-life balance which the Government has put in place, such as improved maternity leave and paternal leave entitlements. The Government is working to cut excessive workload and bureaucracy in schools and is providing 20,000 new classroom assistants to support teachers. The number of part-time teachers has nearly doubled since 1985 to 67,000.

16. We urge the Government to examine ways in which teachers who have moved into management positions but who wish to return to the classroom could receive appropriate pension protection.

No response

The Teachers' Pensions Scheme contains flexible provisions to enable teachers who "step down" to posts of lesser responsibility to protect their pension rights. The arrangements apply both to those who remain with the same employer and those whose new post is with a different employer. Since the introduction of these provisions in 1998, over 2000 teachers have protected their pension in this way. It is evident that the new "stepping down" provisions have provided a real alternative for those teachers who might otherwise have sought early retirement.    

17. We believe that there is scope to extend the principle of the Advanced Skills Teacher (AST). The Government should look at the possibility of creating a number of different grades so as to create a new senior career path for teachers, separate from that of headship.

We welcome the Committee's clear support for recognising and rewarding our best teachers. We have made clear our intention to proceed with the introduction of an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) grade, and we look forward to the advice of the STRB on how this should be implemented. We would certainly see a role for ASTs in assisting with the training and mentoring of new teachers, including those in the proposed new induction period. As representatives of the very best in classroom teaching, ASTs could have a particularly valuable role in demonstrating the highest standards of the profession and thus in helping to "advertise" the best of teaching.

The AST grade was introduced as a pilot scheme in 1998, and extended nationally in 1999. Specified professional duties include: participating in initial teacher training; and participating in the induction and mentoring of newly qualified teachers. Evaluation of the grade by HMI suggests that there is good evidence of the effectiveness of the support ASTs have given to non-qualified teachers.    

18. ASTs reaching the top grades could, perhaps, become involved in training and recruiting new teachers.

As above

As above

19. A well-structured, high-quality induction year, which also ensures that those unsuitable for the profession did not gain NQT status, would form a secure foundation for the longer-term career structure of teachers.

No response

Statutory induction for newly qualified teachers came into effect from 1/9/1999. Teachers who fail their induction year retain qualified teacher status awarded to them on successful completion of initial teacher training, but are precluded from teaching in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools.

20. We urge the Government to examine the possibility of rewarding the brightest entrants to the profession along the lines of a "fast stream".

See recommendation 17

The Government strongly agrees that teaching, like other professions, should have an accelerated career development scheme for the most talented. The Government announced its intention to introduce a "fast track" initiative for the teaching profession in the 1998 Green Paper "Teachers: meeting the challenge of change". A prospectus, "A fast track for teachers", was published in Autumn 1999. The DfEE is currently consulting the STRB about selection criteria and processes. The fast track aims to attract more highly talented graduates into teaching and enable them, and outstanding existing teachers, to move quickly through the profession. New recruits to the profession will receive a £5,000 fast track bursary. All participants will be provided with a laptop computer with access to the Internet. And all participants will have an individual development plan designed to help them progress as quickly as possible. All developmental activities will be funded centrally. Fast track teachers will be expected to perform at a level which justifies a double 'jump' up the salary scale, with the second 'jump' paid for centrally. Recruits from outside the profession will begin ITT in September 2001. Successful applicants from within the profession will take up fast track teaching posts from April 2002.

21. Excellent teachers should be rewarded with sabbaticals, for instance in local universities, in industry or in Voluntary Service Overseas. These should only be used to reward excellence and could help "refresh" the teacher by taking her out of the classroom and helping her to keep up to date with developments in her subject.

See recommendation 17

The consultation document "Professional development, support for teaching and learning, issued in February 2000, sought views from professionals on whether experienced teachers should be given a "sabbatical" period outside of the classroom specifically for development activity and research. 95 per cent of respondents agreed. The responses are being considered as part of the work in developing a strategy on continuing professional development for teachers.

22. We believe that, in "selling" the profession, more could be done to make people realise the benefits they can draw, and the skills they can acquire, from a period in teaching.

No response

The Government has nothing to add.

23. We support the work that is being carried out by the TTA, particularly that involving partnerships with other key players both within the education service and in the wider community. We also believe that a sustained and high quality campaign to establish in the minds of the public the value of good teachers and the challenge of teaching will be beneficial. However, improving the image of teaching requires more than a concerted advertisement campaign, however good.

No response

The Government has nothing to add.

24. We believe that enthusiastic teachers can be the best ambassadors for the profession and that, despite the pressures teachers are under, there are enough enthusiasts to help change public perceptions of the profession. To encourage more teachers to adopt this attitude will require support and partnership from others. If the teaching profession come to feel they are backed by Government, they are more likely to value their own work and thus to promote it to others—in other words, a virtuous circle can be formed.

As the Committee notes, teachers themselves can be the best ambassadors for their profession. Individual teachers can promote the profession in their normal day to day work through their influence and advice to pupils. As a profession, teachers can work through their existing representative bodies, and in future through the GTC, to highlight and represent the best in teaching.

The 1998 Teachers Green Paper included proposals for better leadership, better rewards, better training and better support. The Government has put a number of measures in place since then, including pay restructuring and grants to enable small schools to take on administrative support.

25. We recommend that universities should be encouraged to offer—either as an option in the final year, or as an additional course—the opportunity to students to undertake a short taster course in teaching.

We strongly endorse the case for students to have an opportunity to undertake short taster courses in teaching. With our encouragement the TTA already supports taster course to potential recruits to initial training in shortage subjects and in particular target groups. The response to some courses has been very positive and we expect to see such provision continue.

The 1998 Teachers Green Paper included a proposal to encourage both graduates and undergraduates to act as part-time teaching associates, for which they could be paid as teaching assistants. The Government have decided to pilot the use of teaching associates in Education Action Zones to begin in the 2000-01 Autumn Team. The purpose of the pilot is to explore ways of increasing the number and quality of graduates entering the teaching profession by giving undergraduate and postgraduate students experience of working with teachers in classrooms. It should provide valuable experience for schools and students alike, and enable students to find out first hand whether teaching is a career they would wish to follow. The DfEE has invited bids from EAZs to run the pilots and will announce the successful proposals in the Autumn 2000.

26. The GTC should have a role in ensuring that teachers who fall seriously short of the professional standards expected of them are swiftly removed from teaching. If the profession can be seen to be taking action itself on weeding out the worst, it will serve to focus attention on the majority who are doing well.

The current legislation will give the GTC significant responsibilities in advising on all aspects of the standards of teaching; the standards of conduct of teachers and the training, career development and performance management of teachers; as well as advising on individual cases of barring from the profession. Registration with the GTC in intended to be a new quality benchmark for entry to the teaching profession.

Under the functions conferred on it by the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, the GTC will have a significant role in regulating the teaching profession. Regulations will come into force in September 2000 which will enable the GTC to create and maintain a register of qualified teachers in England. The DfEE intend to make regulations making it a requirement, from 1 February 2001, to be registered with the GTC in order to teach in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools. The GTC's disciplinary functions will come into effect from 1 March 2001 and the DfEE propose to issue draft disciplinary regulations for consultation early in October 2000. These will set out how the GTC will investigate, hear and determine cases where it is alleged that a registered teacher is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence or has been convicted (at any time) of a relevant offence. The GTC will also issue a Code of Practice laying down standards for the professional conduct and practice expected of registered teachers.

27. We believe that the DfEE should develop an open, transparent and robust model for planning teacher numbers which can be clearly understood by all. We also support the recommendation of our predecessors that the TTA be given a greater role in advising the DfEE on the staffing model, and that its advice on the model be made public.

We believe that, given the central importance of securing the right balance and number of new entrants to teaching and the significant public funding devoted to teacher training, central Government should continue to plan the manpower needs of the system. We therefore intend to continue to exercise final responsibility for setting the targets for recruitment to initial teacher training (ITT) courses. However, we fully accept the Committee's view that the planning process must be open and transparent, and that the views of key partners should be reflected in reaching final decisions. In publishing our targets for ITT courses beginning 1998/99, we have therefore already made available (in November 1997) an explanatory paper setting out how the targets were arrived at. We intend to follow this up in the explanatory paper setting out how the targets were arrived at. We intend to follow this up in the first half of this year with a more detailed technical paper explaining the workings of the supply and demand models. We look forward to receiving views and comments on these documents.

In 1998, the Government published a detailed technical description of the Teacher Supply Models. In setting the targets for 2000/01 onwards, the Department for Education and Employment consulted the Teacher Training Agency extensively, including on the assumptions that were used in the Models and the extent to which initial teacher providers would be able to fill places. There is no evidence that, at a national level, the Teacher Supply Models do not provide a good indication of the numbers that need to be recruited to initial teacher training—recent difficulties recruiting teachers to particular geographical areas and secondary subjects reflect the fact that, for several years, teacher training providers have not been able to fill all their places. The Teacher Training Agency is currently considering a regional strategy for the allocation of initial teacher training places, to try and ensure that more teachers train in the geographical areas where there are teacher shortages.

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