'˜Financial incentive' needed to get teachers into tough schools

MANY TEACHERS believe that staff who improve pupils' results and boost progress should be given cash bonuses, according to a new report exploring how to get more people working in challenging schools.

A poll of 1,500 teachers found that a more than a fifth believed improved exam grades should result in a £3,000 cash reward.

The report by the Sutton Trust charity also said that giving teachers more time out of the classroom could encourage them to teach in challenging schools,

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It found that more free periods would be an incentive for staff to spend at least part of their career in this type of school.

The report comes as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has acknowledged that many schools are struggling to recruit good teachers, but has also warned that talk of a “crisis” could put people off wanting to join the profession.

Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has also called for a new national strategy to find talented school leaders to work in challenging areas. At a recent education select committee hearing he said: “Its urgent, its absolutely urgent because where we see a poor school we see poor leadership. How are going to get better leaders in Dudley, Hull, in Grimsby and in Bradford.”

The Sutton Trust study, which will be presented at an international education summit in London today, reveals that a third of those polled said that the most important thing government could do to encourage more teachers to work in challenging schools is to offer lower contact hours - such as free periods.

This rose to 41 per cent among the secondary school teachers questioned. A similar proportion (35 per cent) said that the Government should offer better pay or bonuses. The poll reveals that around a fifth (21 per cent) believe that teachers who improve progress and results should get a cash bonus of £3,000, while 15 per cent thought that staff should get a pay rise. And nearly a quarter thought that team bonuses of £20,000 for a primary school and £50,000 for a secondary should be on offer.

Nearly three in 10 thought there should be no extra reward for improving pupils’ results and progress. The study, part of a research project by academics at Cambridge University, also concludes that experienced teachers are more effective in the classroom than those in the first few years of their career - and they are more likely to teach in advantaged schools.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “We know that good teaching is the most important factor in raising the achievement of all pupils but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Today’s research shows that teachers in more advantaged schools are likely to be more experienced, which generally leads to more effective teaching. In order to improve the performance of disadvantaged pupils it is vital that theses pupils have access to the best teaching. Today’s new polling finds that teachers think financial incentives are the most effective way to attract the best teachers to teach in the most challenging schools.”

Report author Prof Anna Vignoles said: “Teachers are the heart of an effective education system. There are real challenges around recruitment, retention and improving teachers’ satisfaction with their jobs, particularly in our most disadvantaged schools.”