Friday Five: teacher recruitment and retention, National Tutoring Programme evaluation, net-zero strategy, digital literacy, housing crisis


19th January 2024

Government announces new measures to boost teacher recruitment and retention

The government has announced a host of new measures designed to boost teacher recruitment and retention. The measures represent the government’s latest attempt to tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, with growing numbers of teachers leaving the profession each year while the government continually misses its own recruitment targets.

The headlines from the latest announcement of measures include an investment of £1.5 million to deliver a three-year mental wellbeing and support package for school and college leaders, which the government claim will offer professional counselling and guidance to over 2,500 school leaders, and a commitment to publish new guidance on tackling school-staff bullying and harassment this spring. Meanwhile, the government’s new Workload Reduction Taskforce has announced it will also publish new recommendations on reducing teacher workload and improving wellbeing this spring.

Teacher recruitment and retention is an area of special interest for us at CfEY. Our 2021 report Why Teach? explored the key challenges and opportunities in this area. At secondary level, subject interest plays an important part in attracting people to the sector, and many teachers make an almost accidental or opportunistic entry into the profession from another industry before getting hooked. While recruitment efforts emphasising practical benefits like pay or job opportunities remain crucial, efforts must also emphasise the opportunities the profession offers for teachers to remain engaged in a subject they are passionate about.

Read more on the government’s latest measures here; our Why Teach? report is here.

Research by Public First reveals economic benefits of the National Tutoring Programme

New analysis by research agency Public First has revealed the economic benefits of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). Using data from the 2021/22 and 2022/23 iterations of the programme, Public First found that the programme was not only successful in improving participating students’ grades, but also in contributing to the economy through raising earning potentials. They found the programme had a benefit-cost ratio of 6.58, meaning that every pound spent will lead to £6.58 in economic gain.

On attainment, the report found that the NTP will lead to a total of 390 thousand grade improvements. In terms of funding, this translates to 580 grade improvements per £1 million. The impact of the programme was most pronounced in English tuition, which is responsible for 176 thousand grade improvements, 46% of the total. Public First estimate that the impact on lifetime earnings for those who took part in the NTP over the two years analysed is an increase of over £4.36 billion collectively, meaning each participant will, on average, increase their individual lifetime earnings by over £10,000. The increased tax takings alone make the programme worthwhile to the exchequer, the researchers argue, as the additional £1.83 billion in tax takings eclipses the £660 million cost of the programme.

The NTP was one of the government’s flagship post-COVID recovery programmes. Now, its future hangs in the balance with the government unwilling to fully commit to its funding. Following a rocky first year, in which the NTP was criticised for ‘wasting money’ and missing targets by Labour, there is now mounting evidence of its positive impact on both participating students and the wider economy. This will only strengthen the growing number of calls from across the education policy space for the future of the programme to be safeguarded.

Read the full report here.

Government promises to release net-zero strategy for schools 

The government has pledged to release a roadmap outlining its strategy for achieving a net-zero education estate. This commitment comes in response to concerns raised by MPs about the DfE’s progress on decarbonisation. While energy-efficient, the DfE’s school rebuilding programme is deemed insufficient to meet net-zero targets. Academies minister Baroness Barran acknowledges the challenge and promises to develop evidence-based approaches to decarbonisation and resilience. The government aims to publish a detailed roadmap by Autumn 2024, addressing concerns about the lack of allocated funding for sustainability objectives. The roadmap is expected to give ministers sufficient visibility of the urgent case for significant additional funding, expected to be to the tune of £2 billion per annum. 

Read the full article here

Digital Poverty Alliance white paper highlights need for greater digital tech and literacy for teachers

A new white paper by the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) has highlighted a range of opportunities and challenges in improving digital access and skills for teachers. The paper evaluates the first year of the DPA’s Tech4Teachers programme, which provides digital technology and digital literacy CPD training for teachers in schools with high pupil premium numbers.

Although the Tech4Teachers programme distributed over 1,750 devices to teachers in its first year, the CPD element of the initiative, in which teachers are given digital literacy training, saw a lower uptake than expected. This training was designed to meet an acute need across teaching: the Pearson 2023 School Report found that less than one fifth of teachers receive any digital literacy training. The white paper situates skills and literacy shortages alongside tech access issues to underline the scale of the digital challenges facing teachers across the country. These are challenges familiar to us at CfEY: our work in partnership with Microsoft in 2020 revealed the tech access divide between state and private school pupils in England.

The DPA white paper outlined a number of recommendations to tackle these challenges. Capacity issues were identified as a primary reason why uptake of the CPD training was lower than expected. To address this, the authors recommend a country-wide dedicated support programme to ensure all teachers have access to a 1:1 device and the time to access training on how to use it. Alongside this, school leaders should provide incentives for teachers to take CPD training to maintain high standards of digital literacy. Finally, the authors recommend an accountability framework for Tech4Teachers in the future, that sets out the benefits of digital training alongside the supply of technology to teachers.

The full paper is here.

FT’s analysis of the housing crisis shows young adults unable to afford homes

Analysis by the Financial Times of housing prices relative to income in the last 200 years shows a steep rise in housing prices, making it virtually impossible for young adults to buy a home. It now takes 13 years to save a deposit for the average UK property (up from three in the mid-1990s), and 30 years in London (up from four). This has led to a sharp increase in 18-34-year-olds living with their parents, as opposed to living independently with their own children which used to be the norm up until 20 years ago. The authors note that this has led to the busting of one of the most powerful cultural myths of the English-speaking world: if you work hard, you will earn enough to buy a house and start a family. The breakdown of the housing conveyor belt has huge impacts including people postponing starting a family or not having children, diverting individuals away from productive places and activities, and increasing wealth inequality. However, due to the lack of attention paid to the tools that can alleviate the problem of housing affordability, the crisis has shown no signs of abating yet. 

Read the article here

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle and @conorcarleton for future editions.