Minister for school standards Robin Walker writes for Tes to outline why the government believes a new pay offer and access to more NPQs can help drive a new perception of teaching in England.
Millions of people in this country can tell tales of how an inspirational teacher transformed their lives, opening their minds to new ideas and giving them the belief to pursue their ambitions.
Today marks “Thank a Teacher Day” in England, and on behalf of the whole country, I would like to say thank you to our brilliant teachers for everything that you do and have done, especially over the past two years dealing with the huge challenges of the pandemic.
It’s because of the phenomenal work you do that I am determined to make England the best place in the world to be a teacher.
Yes, this means ensuring your pay and incentives are attractive and match the status of the profession. That is why we are proposing to raise teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 from September 2023, alongside further pay rises for teachers at all other career stages.
But at its core, this is about giving you the support you need so you can focus on what brought you into the profession: teaching.
That is why the Department for Education is creating a truly world-leading teacher development system, where all teachers can access evidence-based professional development and support at every stage of their career.
The importance of early career growth
This starts with giving all new teachers a strong foundation for the future.
Since September, we have begun rolling out the Early Career Framework reforms – doubling the statutory induction period to two years and giving all new teachers an entitlement to structured support and professional development, rooted in evidence-based approaches to teaching practice.
All new teachers now get a 5 per cent timetable reduction in their second year of teaching, in addition to the 10 per cent timetable reduction that they already get in their first year.
This year, over 25,000 new teachers have taken part in a fully-funded Early Career Framework programme, supported by almost 23,000 mentors who have themselves received high-quality professional development. I am pleased that our initial evaluation of the provider-led Early Career Framework programmes, published today, shows high levels of enthusiasm and engagement from teachers with the programmes.
But we know there is more to do to make this early-career support truly world-class.
We are working with lead providers to make the materials more user-friendly, simplify the digital service, and produce guidance for mentors on applying the content of the programmes to different contexts and roles.
Funding more National Professional Qualification access
We are also determined to give more experienced teachers access to the best possible in-role training and support, both in specialist areas of practice, such as behaviour management, and in leadership roles, too.
This year, over 29,000 teachers and school leaders are receiving fully funded training as part of our reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs).
Given the huge amount of interest and uptake, we are now extending funding for NPQs for the next two academic years. We are also supporting small schools, with under 600 pupils, to make sure their staff can access this offer through a £200 grant payment for every teacher or leader who participates in an NPQ.
This includes one of two new training programmes being introduced in the autumn: a new Leading Literacy NPQ to give every school a trained literacy expert, and an Early Years Leadership NPQ to strengthen teaching practice in the crucial early years.
All of this has been underpinned by the national network of Teaching School Hubs we have established – school-led centres of excellence in professional development run by a large number of the country’s best schools and trusts, ensuring every school has access to the support it needs.
Unveiling the National Institute of Teaching
But we are ambitious to go further to support our teachers, especially those working in the most challenging contexts.
I am delighted to confirm that this autumn we will establish the National Institute of Teaching – England’s new flagship training and research provider.
The National Institute of Teaching will design, deliver and showcase world-class professional development programmes at every stage of a teacher’s career, from trainee through to system leadership.
It will be run by the School-Led Development Trust – a consortium of leading multi-academy trusts with a strong track record of nurturing the talents of teachers and leaders in their schools, including those working in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
We all want our children to be taught by excellent teachers. Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding career, and we are blessed with a talented and committed workforce.
But on Thank a Teacher Day, our thanks alone is not enough. Our job is to do everything we can to support teachers so that teaching is a career in which you can develop and thrive.
Robin Walker is minister for school standards in the Department for Education