Achieving the Government's targets
4.15. There are essentially three ways in which
progress can be made towards meeting the Government targets: recruiting
more physics, chemistry and mathematics specialists into teaching;
training more existing or prospective teachers to teach effectively
outside their specialism; and improving the retention rate of
teachers, particularly specialists. Whilst the first is clearly
the more desirable long-term approach, Research Councils UK warned
that "it will not be sufficient to rely on the supply of
new graduates entering PGCE courses" (p 198). Similarly,
the Institute of Physics said that "with an average of only
around 2,400 UK physics graduates each year, this shortage of
teachers cannot be rectified from that source in the short to
medium term" (p 52).
4.16. Thus in the short to medium term it will
be necessary to rely heavily on training existing and prospective
teachers to teach outside their own specialism. As the National
Advisers and Inspectors Group for Science (NAIGS) opined, "in
the short term it is much better to equip the current workforce
with the skills to teach outside their own area, rather than try
to plug the gaps with a 'quick fix' recruitment initiative"
4.17. The Government have already taken significant
action in this area by introducing pre-initial teacher training
(ITT) enhancement courses in physics and mathematics, with a chemistry
course following in January 2007. These six-month courses are
funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA)
and allow prospective teachers to undertake intensive subject
knowledge training in a subject outside their main specialism,
provided they are qualified in that subject to at least A-level
standard. According to the Government, "these courses have
had high success and low dropout rates" and, of those people
completing the physics and chemistry pilot courses in 2004 and
2005, around 85 per cent entered ITT. The Government told us that
they were "committed to [the] existing courses for [the]
next three years" and intended "to increase the number
of places available from 2006" (p 19).
4.18. The Institute of Physics was optimistic
about the enhancement courses but expressed concern about the
financial implications for those people taking them. Whilst the
courses themselves are funded by the TDA, they only run from January
to June, so prospective teachers can be left without any financial
support between June and the commencement of their ITT in September.
The Institute noted that participants were ineligible for student
loans and suggested that "if a loan structure could be made
available, the courses would have significantly more appeal to
trainees" (p 52).
4.19. Dr Colin Osborne of the Royal Society of
Chemistry focused on the importance of persuading sufficient numbers
of higher education institutions to offer the enhancement courses.
He said that the TDA, attempting to achieve a national roll-out
of the courses, was "having great difficulty in finding higher
education institutions who wish to participate". He therefore
felt that "there should be a greater inducement for the higher
education institutions to run these kinds of courses" (Q
4.20. We welcome the provision of pre-Initial
Teacher Training (ITT) enhancement courses in physics, mathematics
and chemistry. We recommend that the Government implement a loan
system to help participantsespecially those with family
commitmentsto meet their living costs between the end of
the course and the commencement of ITT. We also call on the Government
to consider further incentives to encourage higher education institutions
to participate on enhancement courses.
4.21. The Government are also displaying a willingness
to help more non-specialist practising teachers to teach physics
or chemistry. The commitment, set out in Next Steps and
repeated in their written evidence, is to "develop and pilot
a ... programme leading to an accredited diploma to give existing
science teachers without a physics and chemistry specialism the
deep subject knowledge and pedagogy they need to teach these subjects
effectively". Moreover, a remit was given to the School Teachers'
Review Body "to advise on whether science teachers who are
not physics and chemistry specialists should receive an incentive"
to encourage them to complete the diploma.
4.22. Lord Adonis, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, told us that this initiative was being taken forward
with the TDA and the National Science Learning Centre, but admitted
that "progress at the moment is at a very early stage".
He added that "it is going to take some time before we get
the properly accredited diplomas in place" but he hoped to
have "something very positive to show this time next year
[i.e. June 2007] in terms of a worked up qualification which we
can start taking forward" (QQ 43-44).
4.23. Asked how the courses might be made attractive
to teachers, Lord Adonis pointed to "bursaries and discounted
costs ... so that teachers do not have to bear those costs themselves".
In addition, he suggested that if the teachers "see promotion
and job opportunities for themselves by this route I think they
will find that quite attractive", particularly in the case
of biologists who could "improve their employability in the
professions" by gaining a physics qualification (Q 45).
4.24. A clear system of accreditationaccompanied
by appropriate rewardsis essential if practising teachers
without a physics or chemistry specialism are to be persuaded
to give up their time to take courses which will qualify them
to teach these subjects more effectively. We recommend that the
Government introduce such a scheme as soon as possible.
4.25. The long-term imperative must be to recruit
more physics, chemistry and mathematics specialists. A key issue
is the availability of the "raw materials"in
other words, the number of graduates in the key shortage subjects.
As John Bangs of the NUT told us, "there are not enough graduates
(particularly with physics and chemistry degrees) coming out of
universities. That is the core problem. Ergo, there are not enough
graduates with physics and chemistry degrees going into teaching"
(Q 160). The problem is not that physics or chemistry graduates
are more averse to a teaching career than graduates in other subjects,
but that there are simply not enough graduates in these subjects.
In the words of Elspeth Farrar, of Imperial College Careers Service,
the percentage of physics graduates going into teaching is in
fact "quite a lot higher than the average across all degree
areas" (Q 163). Yet if the pool of graduates is too small,
there will still not be enough teachers.
4.26. This brings us back to some of the issues
discussed in Chapters 2 and 3. The key to attracting more students
to study science at university is inspiring teaching and effective
advice from careers advisers, teachers and parents. The whole
process can be a virtuous circle, whereby high quality teaching
and advice encourage more students to pursue science, ultimately
resulting in a larger pool of talented and highly motivated potential
teachers, who can in turn encourage their students to follow in
a similar path. Conversely, it can be a vicious circle whereby
poor teaching and advice deter students from following science,
thus diminishing the pool of graduates and potential teachers,
and subsequently having an adverse effect on the next generation.
4.27. A further issue is the willingness of students
who do opt for science and mathematics degrees to take up a teaching
career. According to Professor Jim Donnelly of Leeds University,
speaking at our seminar, attractions for potential teachers included
working with children, the pleasure of teaching something well,
staying with or returning to a favoured subject and a more idealistic
desire to "give something back". Teaching also offered
long holidays, particularly attractive to those with families.
On the other hand, deterrents included student and parent behaviour,
poor salary and career opportunities and adverse working conditions
(long hours, poor resourcing, stress and sometimes political interference).
Finally, Elspeth Farrar of Imperial College Careers Service claimed
that "teaching has lost the status that it once had",
perhaps partly because of "the poor media image of education
at the moment" (Q 157).
4.28. Student behaviour, workload and status,
which potentially affect teachers of all subjects, are longstanding
education issues that go well beyond the remit of this inquiry.
Pay is also an entrenched problem, though it is of particular
relevance to science and mathematics teaching because graduates
in those subjects are in such demand across industry and can command
high salaries. The Government pointed to TDA research which showed
that graduates in shortage subjects "saw themselves as being
in a stronger labour market positionwith more career choices
and potentially more lucrative options". This particularly
applied to potential teachers of mathematics and science, "who
were aware from media coverage of their shortage value" (p
4.29. Drawing on her experience of careers advice
at Imperial College, Elspeth Farrar told us that "many of
those students that are doing particularly physical sciences and
engineering can attract very high starting salaries, much higher
than the starting salaries that are available through teaching.
The average starting salary for Imperial graduates who graduated
in 2005 was £26,000". Moreover, "it is not just
the starting salaries, it is the progression. Many of those students
will go on to careers where they are earning six figure salaries
very swiftly" (Q 157).
4.30. Financial considerations will be more important
for some people than others. However, it would be naïve to
imagine that graduatesmany with large student debtsand
those looking to switch careers would not weigh up the salary
prospects of a teacher against alternatives in industry or the
city. It would be unrealistic to expect teaching salaries to match
those in industry, but an extra few thousands pounds could tip
the balance in a potential teacher's mind in favour of a career
which may offer better working conditions and a more fulfilling
life. Indeed, the TDA's new recruitment campaign for physics and
chemistry teachers recognises this point, with the posters focusing
largely on the financial inducements available.
We cannot therefore agree with Schools Minister Jim Knight MP,
who insisted that "teachers are not motivated by more pay
... it is not about pay at all" (Q 32).
4.31. The Government have admittedly increased
teachers' pay significantly since 1997, "with a real increase
in starting salaries of 11.5 per cent, and up to 17 per cent for
those in London", as well as the additional pay available
through the Advanced Skills Teachers scheme (p 19). This is to
be welcomed. However, the realities of the marketplace have not
been reflected in teacher salaries. In spite of the serious shortage
of specialist physics, chemistry and mathematics teachers, and
the fact that science and mathematics graduates can often earn
substantially more elsewhere than humanities graduates, teachers
of those subjects remain on the same salary scale as teachers
of any other subject.
4.32. This issue was picked up as long ago as
2002, when Sir Gareth Roberts' report, SET for success,
recommended that "the Government should tackle ... recruitment
and retention problems through increasing the remuneration offered
to teachers of these shortage subjects"namely science,
mathematics, ICT and design and technology. Similarly, the Science
Learning Centres came to the conclusion that "the only effective
way of recruiting extra physical scientists may be to pay them
more than other teachers" (p 174).
4.33. The Government seem muddled on this issue.
Jim Knight rejected the idea of differential pay across the board
for teachers of shortage subjects because "there would be
a huge deadweight cost" attached (Q 40)by which he
presumably means that higher salaries are not necessary to attract
teachers of these subjects in certain schools or areas of the
country. Similarly, in written evidence, the Government defended
the status quo, pointing out that "schools can also
make extra payments above the standard pay scales to any teachers
for recruitment and retention purposes and decide the amounts
themselves" (p 19). However, the Government appear to have
recognised that the current situation is not satisfactory, pledging
in Next Steps to remit the School Teachers' Review Body
to advise on "improving the use of current pay incentives
and flexibilities to improve the recruitment, retention and quality
of science and mathematics teachers"a
commitment that was reiterated in oral evidence (Q 40).
4.34. Amongst the teaching profession itself,
there are understandable concerns over the introduction of higher
pay for teachers of shortage subjects. John Bangs of the NUT said
that "I think all teachers should be paid the same"
(Q 174). Similarly, the ASE, whilst welcoming the remit of the
School Teachers' Review Body, warned that "implementation
of differential schemes could be divisive within the ... teaching
profession" (p 97).
4.35. If the targets for increasing the number
of specialist teachers of physics, chemistry and mathematics are
to be met, the Government must confront the issue of salaries.
Whilst schools already have some flexibility with regard to salaries,
the current situation is not satisfactory. We therefore recommend
that the Government grant schools a specific right to offer significantly
higher starting salaries to candidates specialising in physics,
chemistry and other shortage subjects. The Government should simultaneously
work to ensure that head teachers are aware of this power and
that, where necessary, they make this information available when
placing job advertisements.
4.36. The Government have already introduced
shorter-term financial incentives in the form of teacher training
bursaries and "golden hellos" for postgraduate trainee
teachers. Since September 2006 these have been differentiated
so that science and mathematics graduates receive a £9,000
bursary and a £5,000 golden hello, whereas graduates in other
shortage subjects receive £9,000 and £2,500, and those
wanting to teach non-shortage subjects or primary receive a £6,000
bursary only (p 18).
4.37. According to the Government, "newly
qualified teachers noted the importance of golden hellos in encouraging
them to remain in the profession through the first few, sometimes
difficult, monthsallowing them to develop a more balanced
picture of the varying pressures of the profession during the
academic year. This was particularly the case for shortage subject
teachers who were more aware of the alternative careers open to
them" (p 18).
4.38. Some witnesses welcomed these incentives.
The Royal Society of Chemistry commented, "there can be little
doubt that the various initiatives such as training bursaries
and 'golden hellos' have been successful in attracting people
into science teaching" (p 47). Similarly, Professor John
Howson of Education Data Surveys cited evidence that the introduction
of the training bursaries, on top of the golden hellos, had helped
to offset the decline in teacher training applications following
the introduction of university tuition fees.
4.39. However, a number of witnesses expressed
doubts about the incentives. The National Advisers and Inspectors
Group for Science (NAIGS) argued that the golden hellos were "not
big enough to attract science graduates who could be earning lots
more in professions other than teaching" (p 160). John Bangs
of the NUT felt that the payments "only have a short-term
impact" and suggested that "after two or three years
the attractions of a career outside school become overwhelming
and the incentive that you originally had to go in disappears"
4.40. The Science Learning Centres, pointing
out that around two-fifths of newly-recruited science teachers
leave before their fifth year of teaching, drew attention to the
Teaching and Learning Research Programme's suggestion that "those
who remain as full-time science teachers for four or more years
should have their student debt written off" (p 174). The
proposed requirement for four years of service is considerably
longer than what is required to earn a golden hello. The Institute
of Physics agreed that this proposal "could be attractive"
(p 52) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology put forward
a similar scheme for consideration (p 155).
4.41. Whilst the training bursaries and golden
hellos offered to postgraduate trainee teachers appear to have
had a positive effect, we are concerned that they may have a fairly
short-term impact on the recipient. We call on the Government
to examine the merits of reducing the size of the golden hello
and offering instead to write off a certain amount of the student
debt of new science or mathematics teachers, in return for four
or five years of full-time teaching.
4.42. It is equally important to convey to science
and mathematics graduates the satisfaction that can be gained
from working with children and young people and from teaching
them well. The Student Associates Scheme is valuable in this regard,
enabling undergraduates to go into a school and gain a "taste"
of teaching. Elspeth Farrar of Imperial College told us that students
had generally found the scheme to be "very interesting and
very useful" and that "a reasonable proportion are carrying
on to apply to do a postgraduate certificate in education".
However, she warned that the participating schools "need
to be picked very carefully" so that students do not have
a "negative experience" (Q 175).
4.43. The Government told us that they had agreed
to fund the Student Associates Scheme "for a further three
academic years from September 2006". In addition, an extra
£700,000 was being made available to expand the number of
mathematics and science placements, expected to number around
2,500 in 2006/07. The Government warned, however, that there had
been "a degree of reticence" on the part of mathematics
and science faculties within certain universities because of "the
perceived time constraints on students" (p 25).
4.44. Another valuable initiative is Teach First,
which enables talented graduates to teach in schools for two yearsgaining
qualified teacher status so they can remain in teaching or return
to it in the future if they wishand to apply for a job
with one of the scheme's business supporters afterwards. Elspeth
Farrar told us that the scheme had been "a very successful
way of encouraging students to experience teaching ... [it] has
worked very well" (Q 167).
4.45. Aside from recent graduates, there is a
rich pool of potential teachers amongst those people wishing to
change careers and teachers wishing to return to work following
a career break. Good use is already being made of the first of
these groups: the Government told us that 45 per cent of science
teachers and 42 per cent of mathematics teachers had had another
career before entering the teaching profession (p 5). Indeed,
the Schools Minister, Jim Knight MP, pointed out that "the
average age of new teachers coming into the state system is now
30, thanks to ... the number coming in as career switchers in
their thirties and forties". He noted that this was "a
transformation on the position even ten years ago ... when virtually
all teachers went in doing their PGCE after university and then
became lifetime teachers" (Q 28).
4.46. Dr Michael Day of the Training and Development
Agency for Schools (TDA) illustrated the Agency's ambition in
this area, telling us that "about 85 per cent of the money
we spend on recruiting people into teaching is targeted at people
who are already in jobs, who are looking for a second job".
These efforts appeared to be paying off: Dr Day noted that teaching
had been voted "the most attractive second career by a survey
of old graduates" and claimed that the profession was now
"very clearly the career of choice for career changers".
The Graduate Teacher Programme, where people can be employed as
a teacher whilst doing their training, was targeted in particular
at career changers. The scheme had expanded from around 30 participants
six years ago to 500 people training to be science teachers in
2004/05 (Q 204).
4.47. John Bangs of the NUT was enthusiastic
about the Graduate Teacher Programme and its sister scheme, the
Registered Teacher Programme, suggesting that they were some of
"the best things that have been introduced over the last
few years". However, these routes were still "relatively
under-resourced [and] under-cared for" and needed "good
attention". A particular problem was that people on these
schemes "often ... do not get the quality mentoring that
they are supposed to get" whereas student teachers attached
to higher education institutions tended to get proper support
and therefore had "a much higher regard for themselves"
as teachers (QQ 181, 183).
4.48. The ASE agreed that employment-based routes,
especially the Graduate Teacher Programme, had "made a significant
contribution to recruitment" but warned that "the incentives,
especially for someone who is changing careers, are not generous"
(p 96). There may indeed be insufficient incentives to join an
employment-based route into teaching, but a more serious problem
is that career changers potentially face a move from a relatively
senior position to one as an unqualified teacher earning only
£14,000 per year. Moreover, those career changers without
any teaching experience will face a long training period before
their pay can rise to that of a qualified teacher. The danger
of insisting that all new teachers must have a formal teaching
qualificationeven if they have extensive experience in
STEM careersis that, in the words of Elspeth Farrar of
Imperial College, they will "choose to go into the private
sector because they do not need teaching qualifications"
4.49. Admittedly it may not be desirable to pitch
career changers straight into full-blown teaching without any
training whatsoever. In the words of Dr Derek Bell of the ASE,
they "have to demonstrate that [they] can do it", and
this requires more than "simply knowing information".
He pointed instead to "assessment-only routes which are a
fast track process for getting in" (Q 204). However,
this option may not be suitable for a candidate with no experience
of teaching but with extensive knowledge of mathematics or one
of the branches of science. Elspeth Farrar proposed "an accelerated
scheme" whereby people with "professional experience
in industry or commerce" can "gain the QTS quickly"
(Q 182). This would allow greater flexibility when preparing new
teachers, and might make a move into teaching a more attractive
proposition for those with great experience and knowledge to impart.
4.50. We recommend that the Government introduce
a modified version of the Graduate Teacher Programme which will
allow those with extensive relevant experience of science or mathematics
in industry to gain Qualified Teacher Status more rapidly. We
further recommend that relevant knowledge and experience should
be reflected in a higher salary for career changers commencing
their teacher training.
4.51. Many teachers also return to the profession
following a career break, particularly those who have taken time
off to care for children. As Marie-Noëlle Barton of WISE
told us, "women still say that teaching is an excellent career
for them if they want to combine a family with a job" (Q
185). The TDA has put significant efforts into tempting such people
back to teaching by running a database, providing a telephone
helpline and distributing a magazine which is "very heavily
targeted at science and maths teachers that have taken career
breaks". In addition, the TDA offers refresher courses which
can help teachers returning to the classroom, along with bursaries
and childcare allowances. This appears to be paying dividends:
Dr Day told us that "about a quarter" of people coming
into teaching were returning from a career break (Q 204).
4.52. Even if sufficient numbers of specialist
science and mathematics teachers can be recruited, it is essential
that they are subsequently retained. This is necessary not only
to maintain teacher numbers, but also to ensure continuity in
schools. The importance of such continuity was illustrated by
Miriam Rosen of Ofsted, who stated that there was "a clear
correlation between higher teacher mobility and less favourable
inspection judgements"; she added that "in schools with
high teacher mobility the subjects most affected are English,
mathematics and science". Overall, she said, "the proportion
of unsatisfactory science teaching was greater in schools with
high teacher mobility at 12 per cent compared with five per cent
for other schools" (Q 68).
4.53. The figures on retention of science and
mathematics teachers are mixed. The Government pointed to a study
of teachers who qualified in 1994, which showed that just 63 per
cent of science teachers and 59 per cent of mathematics teachers
were teaching in maintained secondary schools a year laterand
these figures had continued to drop consistently over the subsequent
ten years. A later survey showed that between 74 and 84 per cent
of mathematics teachers and between 72 and 82 per cent of science
teachers who attained Qualified Teacher Status in summer 2004
were teaching in the maintained sector six months later. However,
the Government also claimed that "retention for mathematics
and all sciences has increased since 2002" and that "resignations
of science specialists are roughly in proportion with what we
would expect compared to the proportion of science specialists
in the teaching population"although more leave the
profession altogether, rather than move schools, than the average
(pp 22-23). Clearly there is room for significant improvement.
4.54. The reasons for teachers leaving the profession
tend to be similar to those deterring others from joining in the
first place. At the seminar, Professor Jim Donnelly pointed to
workload, student behaviour and the weight of Government initiatives
as the most problematic issues. Similarly, the Government identified
workload, stress, their own initiatives and personal circumstances
(p 23). These issues affect all teachers, not just those teaching
science and mathematics, and the search for solutions goes well
beyond the remit of this report. However, we outline below the
main points raised by witnesses and consider what arises from
4.55. Amongst witnesses, student behaviour was
the most frequently mentioned of these problems. John Bangs of
the NUT told us that "if you have a class or a group of children
who are problematic and there is low level disruption ... that
will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. You will go. The
trigger is pupil behaviour and that is fairly well documented"
(Q 190). Similarly, the Biosciences Federation warned that "feedback
from existing teachers in all subject areas shows that lack of
discipline in schools is driving experienced teachers from the
profession" and added that "there is a danger that accounts
of these negative experiences in the media may deter more graduates
from entering the profession" (p 65). Both of these outcomes
are particularly problematic for those subjects, such as physics
and chemistry, which are consistently struggling to recruit sufficient
numbers of specialist teachers.
4.56. The Schools Minister, Jim Knight MP, told
us that Ofsted had reported that "93 per cent of secondary
schools have satisfactory behaviour". In light of the other
evidence we have received, it is difficult to know quite what
this very high figure amounts to in reality. Indeed, Mr Knight
acknowledged that discipline was "an area where we can do
better". He pointed in particular to behaviour management
coaching during teacher training and the measures contained in
the Education and Inspections Bill currently going through Parliament
4.57. The other problem most often raised by
witnesses was the impact of education reform and curriculum change
on teachers. On the first issue, the ASE warned that "the
plethora of initiatives which face teachers and others adds further
confusion resulting in 'overload' and potential inertia as schools
and teachers attempt to meet the many demands placed on them"
(p 100). Similarly, John Bangs referred to "stress and strain
about initiatives over which [teachers] have little control"
(Q 190). In the Royal Society's opinion, therefore, "policy-makers
must take due account of the effects [of reform] on science teachers
by properly consulting with them and their representatives before
policies are finalised" (p 60).
4.58. On curriculum change, the ASE claimed that
"the rate at which system wide change has been, and is being
introduced, is becoming counter-productive" and warned that
"rarely has there been time to learn from the results of
the changes" (p 100). Moreover, Emma Drewery, a science teacher,
told us that "teachers have to adapt to the new specifications
very quickly, and with little or no support, resources or funding"
4.59. In order to address retention levels effectively,
the Government clearly must work harder to improve behaviour in
schools and to minimise the impact of both education reform and
curriculum change upon teachers. In addition, they must consult
fully with teachers' representatives at an early stage when formulating
new policies. However, the Institution of Engineering and Technology
suggested a shorter-term fix in the form of retention bonuses
after three, five and ten years for teachers of shortage subjects
(p 155). We call on the Government to ensure that schools have
sufficient powers and funds to offer generous retention bonuses
to teachers of shortage subjects, and that those schools with
retention problems are fully aware of these powers.
28 National Foundation for Educational Research, Mathematics
and science in secondary schools: the deployment of teachers and
support staff to deliver the curriculum, January 2006. Commissioned
by the DfES. Back
ibid, pp vi, 41 and 106. Back
Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham,
Physics in Schools and Colleges: Teacher Deployment and Student
Outcomes, November 2005, p i. Commissioned by the Gatsby Charitable
Mathematics and science in secondary schools, p 137. Back
Physics in Schools and Colleges, p iii. Back
ibid, p i. Back
Next Steps, p 45. Back
See http://www.tdanewadvertising.com/uyh_posters.htm. Back
Next Steps, p 45. Back