A good education is a key foundation in going on to enjoy a productive and rewarding life, so new research suggesting that many pupils in Yorkshire have teachers without relevant degrees in their specialist subjects is deeply concerning.
New analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has highlighted the stark differences in how highly-qualified teachers are represented in the most and least-deprived areas of England. South and West Yorkshire have been cited among the areas with the lowest proportion of teachers with a relevant degree, with Barnsley and Doncaster particularly struggling to hire highly-qualified teachers in the vital fields of maths and science.
In areas outside of London, just over a third of maths teachers and just under half of chemistry teachers in the poorest schools had a relevant degree.
The situation has led former Liberal Democrat minister David Laws, now the executive chairman of the EPI, to call for the Government to make it more attractive for the best-qualified teachers to work in schools in deprived areas, with the think-tank calling for a wider rollout of a nationally-funded salary supplement scheme that is already being trialled on a limited basis to attract more maths experts to the profession.
While schools in England are technically able to make such payments already, they currently have to be drawn from existing budgets – presenting a considerable financial challenge.
As the Department for Education also needs to balance its own budgets, the answers are not easy. But the Government must ensure it gets its sums right to provide children in Yorkshire with the education they deserve in subjects like maths and science, which will have an important bearing on both their understanding of the world and their future life chances.