From education to employment

Levelling up premium payments for FE teachers

teacher high fiving student
  • Incentive backed by £200m investment to support schools and colleges attract and retain the excellent teachers they need in vital subjects
  • More subjects to receive payments including early years, maths, construction, engineering and manufacturing – supporting young people to progress
  • Move is part of the Prime Minister’s pledge to make sure all young people have the skills they need to get good jobs that will help grow the economy

From September, up to £6000 will be available for teachers working in key STEM and technical subjects such as maths, construction and engineering, as well as early years education, as part of the government’s drive to recruit and retain the best staff, the Department for Education announced today (23 April).

The expansion of the Levelling Up premium payment scheme to those working in further education and to a wider range of subjects for the first time will support young people to progress skills that will help grow our economy. It will also double the existing Levelling Up premium payments to school teachers of maths, physics, chemistry and computing.

The incentive is part of the government’s drive to support schools and colleges to recruit and retain the talented teachers they need in the future, and ahead of the introduction of the Advanced British Standard – a new baccalaureate style post-16 qualification which is set to bring together the best of technical and academic education.

At the heart of the proposals for the Advanced British Standard are an increase in teaching time of around 200 hours over the course of the qualification, greater breadth and choice of subjects for young people and a core focus on maths and English.

Backed by an investment of around £200 million over the next 2 years, it will make sure more young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – continue to have access to the world-class education and training they need in the subjects to fulfil their potential, whilst plugging skills gap and boosting the economy.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

“Teachers are the heart of our education system, inspiring young people and shaping future generations.

“By offering incentives of up to £6,000, we’re ensuring schools and colleges can support the recruitment and retention of dedicated teachers in high priority subjects and in the areas that need them most.

“This will make a real difference to schools and colleges across the country allowing them to provide world class education for all ahead of the Advanced British Standard, whilst giving businesses the skilled workers they need to drive economic growth.”

This move is part of plan to deliver a world-class education system for all, where primary children are the ‘best in the west’ at reading and 90% of schools are now rated Good or Outstanding – up from just 68% in 2010.

The £6000 incentive is being offered through the government’s Levelling Up premium doubling payments introduced in 2022 to support schools in disadvantaged areas across the country to recruit and retain the teachers they need in maths, physics, chemistry and computing.

The programme is being significantly expanded to cover further education teachers teaching in vital subjects including early years, building and construction, digital, engineering, manufacturing and transport engineering and electronics.

Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young said:

“Spreading opportunity is at the core of the government’s levelling up mission because while we know ability is spread evenly, opportunity is not. That includes supporting young people to thrive through a quality education as everyone deserves the best start in life.

“A high-quality education relies on excellent teachers and this funding will help schools and colleges attract and retain the staff they need to equip our kids with the best possible start in life.”

David Hughes, chief executive, Association of Colleges said:

“This extra funding will help attract and retain key staff in colleges, so I welcome the expansion of the Levelling Up premium.

“The issue of teacher recruitment is one of the most pressing challenges facing the sector, particularly in these key areas where experts working in industry are likely to earn salaries significantly beyond those of teachers.”

There are record numbers of teachers working in schools – up by 27,000 since 2010. To attract the brightest and the best teachers, the government is also investing £196 million this academic year to get more teachers across key subjects.

The incentive will build on this by making sure we have more excellent school teachers as well as further education teachers in classrooms across the country so that young people have access to the world-class education and training they need to succeed.

To attract and retain the brightest and the best further education teachers, £470 million is being invested over two financial years from 2023-24 to enable providers to address key priorities, such as recruitment and retention, and providing additional support through the Teach in FE campaign and the Taking Teaching Further programme.

The Advanced British Standard will mean most students choose a minimum of five subjects from a menu of options to give more breadth and flexibility. The subjects will be built on A Levels and T Levels, retaining their rigour and focus on building knowledge. By increasing teaching time and the breadth of what students can study, including maths and English, the Advanced British Standard will widen students’ career options and bring England in line with major economies such as France, Germany, Japan and the USA.

Sector Response

Ben Rowland, AELP Chief Executive, said:

“Staff at independent training providers carry out crucial work in delivering training in many of the specific subjects eligible for payments under the Levelling Up Premium. Despite this, they are being blocked from accessing funding purely because of the type of institution they work for.”

“ITPs are at the heart of our communities supporting the development of young people in the areas that need it most – often working with those who statutory providers are unwilling to engage with. Introducing incentives for people working at some types of providers but not others will make recruitment for ITPs even harder, hitting their learners disproportionately.”

“This is grossly unfair and there will be a lot of staff at ITPs upset at losing out; quite frankly, it’s a kick in the teeth for those working outside the college or school system.”

Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The Government continues with sticking plaster responses to a systemic teacher recruitment and retention crisis in schools and colleges. There are teacher shortages across the curriculum. 

‘Not only are teacher recruitment targets being missed by huge amounts, but an unprecedented number of teachers are quitting the profession prior to retirement. This scheme does nothing to retain existing teachers. 

‘The Government’s underfunding of schools and colleges, cuts to the value of teacher pay and sky-high workload have severely damaged the ability of the profession to compete for new recruits and retain existing staff.

‘Government attacks on teacher pay have resulted in huge real terms pay cuts for those working in schools and colleges.  This has significantly damaged the ability of our education service to compete with other graduate professions. It is clear that the solution needed is the significant and fully funded correction in pay for which the NEU is campaigning.

‘Instead, the Government has chosen to offer prescriptive ideology, divisive pay incentives and half-baked recruitment schemes. Teachers and leaders in schools and colleges, students and parents deserve better”.

Pepe Di’Iasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Any attempt to address the worrying shortage of teachers is obviously welcome, but this scheme does appear to be an attempt to patch up a system that is already broken.

“Last year the government missed its target for secondary teacher recruitment by 50 per cent overall, and in 15 out of 18 subjects. The recruitment and retention crisis extends right across the profession, not just in a few areas that are deemed ‘vital’. Targeted approaches like this will only serve to further demoralise those who are not eligible for pay incentives, particularly those working in subjects where teacher shortages are just as severe.

“The government needs to recognise that all teachers have a vital role to play, and that significant action is required to attract more graduates to the profession. Pay erosion over the last decade needs to be reversed and steps must be taken to reduce workload, but it is important that this is applied fairly across the education sector. This will require significant resources but small recruitment schemes and incentives will not be enough to shift the dial and end the recruitment problems that school and college leaders are facing on a daily basis. A comprehensive, long-term strategy is what is needed to solve the recruitment and retention crisis. Reactionary, short-term measures that appear to primarily be in service of the Prime Minister’s Advanced British Standard, are just not going to cut it.”

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby said:

“We welcome the Government’s significant investment in recruiting and retaining STEM teachers. This targeted funding will help schools serving the country’s poorest communities get the high-quality teachers they need.

“But to make the greatest difference, this must be expanded to the hundreds of trainee teachers working in classrooms across low-income communities. That way, we can get the best and the brightest into the areas that need them most.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The government has tinkered around with a number of schemes which are supposed to improve teacher recruitment, including this one, but last year’s dire trainee teacher recruitment figures show that its half-baked proposals simply aren’t working.

“Expanding this scheme alone, with its sticking plaster approach, may have some localised benefits, but it does not begin to get to the bottom of the severe recruitment and retention crisis facing schools, or incentivise experienced teachers and leaders to remain in the profession.

“Doing so will require serious government action and investment to reverse a decade of real-terms pay cuts for teachers and leaders, properly fund schools, reform the damaging inspection regime, and reduce intolerable levels of workload.”

Related Articles