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Teachers could receive a £3K pay rise: is the government making a U-turn?

Teachers could receive a £3K pay rise: is the government making a U-turn?
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On Wednesday, Boris Johnson made a conference speech in Manchester that highlighted his plans to “level up” the UK. In the speech, the PM promised to “get on with the job” of creating a high-wage, high-skilled economy in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic.

Many of the proposals that were made in the speech focussed on sealing the gaps in the infrastructures that are holding people and communities back, including a bid to offer a £3,000 bonus to certain teaching staff across the UK.

What is the teacher bonus scheme?

The new teacher bonus scheme offers a £3K salary boost to teachers in the early years of their careers. The scheme has been proposed by the government as an incentive to recruit maths and science teachers in the struggling areas of England.

The teacher bonus scheme will cost around £60 million to carry out and will be tax free.

The new scheme will offer a bonus to maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers for the first five years of their career.

The government has said that the initiative is aimed at funding teachers who work in struggling areas of England; the exact areas that will be affected are yet to be released and further details of the scheme have not been announced.

Who will be eligible for a pay rise?

The £3K teaching bonus will be available to teachers in the fields of Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Computing for the first five years of their career. Mr Johnson stated that the pay rises would be granted to teachers working in struggling areas of the UK, though exact details of these areas have not yet been released.

If the new scheme follows in the footsteps of previous teacher bonus schemes that have been offered by the government, teachers will be able to check their eligibility at gov.uk. This service will most likely become available when the scheme is rolled out.

Previous teacher bonus schemes have given eligible teachers a few months to apply for the bursary online and have provided clear deadlines for when applications will close.

Has the government made a U-turn?

Following the PM’s announcement, Labour criticised Johnson for “recycling” a previous teacher payment scheme that was scrapped only last year.

Early career payments were originally offered to only maths teachers and were introduced in 2018. The early careers payments were awarded to teachers in the third and fifth years of their jobs and were worth up to £7,500.

Just like Johnson’s latest proposal, early careers payments focused on teachers working in high-needs areas as an incentive to continue with their jobs. The original scheme expanded to include more teaching professions in 2020 but was scrapped shortly after efforts to improve teacher retention were unsuccessful.

Labour Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green stated that the new premium is a less generous recycling of the old policy. The new premium scheme shares many similarities with the old early careers payments initiative but offers significantly less money to the teachers who are eligible.

Sam Freedman, former adviser at the department of Education, agreed with Green’s statement. According to Freedman, the government is making a U-turn and is simply bringing back an old policy in a revised form.

Will the new scheme be another flop?

The £3K teacher bonus incentive is not the first scheme that the government has proposed to improve teaching standards in England.

According to the gov.uk website, international evidence shows that teacher incentives could reduce career leavers by 30%, which would improve the teacher retention rate in UK schools. The gov.uk website outlines that for this rate of improvement to occur, incentives must be at least 10% of the existing salary.

The previously unsuccessful early career payments scheme offered significantly more money to new teachers, yet failed to improve teacher retention in the UK. With the new scheme sharing so many similarities with early career payments, could the new teacher bonus be another flop?

Teachers should keep an eye out for further details of the new scheme, which are likely to be announced over the next few months.

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