From education to employment

Labour slams end to teacher recruitment programme for career switchers

Teacher with a white board and paper - stock

With thousands of teaching vacancies across the country, and efforts at recruitment in key subjects failing for year after year, Labour has learned that the government has taken the extraordinary decision to end funding for the Career Change Programme, which was working to bring people who’d already had a successful career in other sectors into teaching as a career change.

The Department for Education’s own figures show that ministers have consistently missed their teacher recruitment targets.  In nine out of the last 10 years the Conservative government has failed to reach teacher recruitment targets – and in some subjects, the shortfall in recruitment is huge.

In 2023 alone, the government recruited just 17% of their target number of physics teachers, just 44% of their target number of science teachers, and 63% of their target number of maths teachers.

An email sent out this week to school leaders involved in the work by the charity that currently has the contract explains that “the DFE is no longer planning to fund a new Career Change Programme contract” and that without such funding, “[we] cannot recruit any more experienced people to change career and become teachers beyond this September”

By contrast, Labour has set out ambitious plans for recruiting 6500 additional qualified expert teachers, so every child can be taught by a subject specialist, as well as a far-reaching programme to restore the status and appeal of teaching as a profession for new trainees and existing teachers alike, to stem the exodus of experienced teachers.

This would include a new Teacher Training Entitlement to high quality professional development, a new mentoring programme to support school leaders, an end to Ofsted one-word judgements and regional school improvement teams to support the spread of best practice. 

Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, Catherine McKinnell MP, said:

“It’s hard to believe that the Secretary of State who talks so much about her past business experience is choosing to end the programme that brings business people into education, when schools are crying out for recruits.

“Teacher vacancies are up almost sixfold since 2010, and more than ever before we need to be encouraging people to consider changing to a career as a qualified teacher.

“That’s why Labour has set out our plans to recruit 6500 additional qualified expert teachers, paid for from the money raised by ending the tax breaks that private schools enjoy.”

“Fourteen years in and the Conservative government is still finding fresh ways to fail our children.  Only a Labour government can bring the change our children need.”

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