Former UK education minister advocates increased pay to address teacher shortages

The teacher strike action in England recently came to an end after four unions agreed to a 6.5-percent pay increase offered by the government.

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Nick Gibb, the long-standing former Minister of State for Schools for the United Kingdom, has said that increasing pay is necessary to address acute teacher shortages.

Gibb has stated that addressing acute teacher shortages will require increased pay and called for teachers to be “properly rewarded.”

“I do think we have to pay teachers properly. I really do, we need a properly well-rewarded teaching profession. I am pleased we were able to give a 6 per cent pay rise this year on top of 5.4 per cent last year because if you struggle to recruit there’s only one real answer,” Gibb said Gibb in an interview.

When directly asked about increasing teacher pay, the former schools minister emphasized the urgency, noting that less than a fifth of the needed physics teachers were recruited last year, stating: “If you are only recruiting 17 percent of your target for physics teachers then clearly something has to move.”

Gibb expressed pride in his tenure as the schools minister, highlighting his achievements in improving England’s performance in international educational league tables during his record stint from 2005 to last month with minimal breaks.

Stepping down in the coming election

The former minister, who is set to step down in the upcoming election, acknowledged a desire to have served as education secretary. He revealed, however, that he fell short in navigating the “political game,” citing challenges associated with being gay during a period when societal acceptance was limited.

“I am not that interested in politics as a game, gossip and so on. I am interested in ideas and what makes the country better and that is not how you get on in politics,” added Gibb.

He noted that working with Michael Gove was a “white knuckle ride,” yet described it as an “absolute joy” and considered Gove his favorite boss. However, he declined to disclose his least favorite.

Gibb held his position during the COVID era when Gavin Williamson approved a computer-driven adjustment of A-level grades. This modification was later identified as disproportionately affecting schools in deprived areas.

UK teacher strike action ending

The teacher strike action in England recently came to an end after four unions agreed to a 6.5-percent pay increase offered by the government. The National Education Union, the UK’s largest teaching union, voted overwhelmingly in favor of accepting the offer.

The unions representing England’s teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers and National Association of Head Teachers, accepted a new pay deal on July 31. It followed the Association of School and College Leaders doing so earlier in July. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said this was “good news”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added on microblogging platform X that it was “a big moment.”

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, hailed a deal that would raise the average teacher’s salary by £2,500 (around $3193). “It’s not all that we wanted,” she told the BBC. “but for a one-year pay award, it is a significant achievement.” She added that they would continue to push for better school funding and higher teacher wages.

Report by Education Endowment Foundation

A new report by the Education Endowment Foundation has recommended financial incentives, such as higher salaries and bonuses, to attract high-quality teachers to challenging schools in the UK.

The findings stem from a review of strategies to boost teacher recruitment and retention, authored by a team from the Institute of Education at University College London’s Faculty of Education and Society.

The report also proposes that providing direct rewards to teachers, rather than just to the schools they work for, may help address recruitment and retention issues in the education sector.

£196 million investment on teacher recruitment

The UK government is investing £196 million (US$241 million) to strengthen teacher recruitment, focusing on crucial subjects. In a statement, officials said that the funding will support trainee teachers through scholarships, bursaries, and salary grants.

Scholarships for prospective teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computing will be increased to a tax-free £30,000 ($36,833), aiming to attract top talent to support the newly announced Advanced British Standard.

The ABS represents an innovative qualification designed for 16- to 19-year-olds, integrating the strengths of A Levels and T Levels. Additionally, classroom time will be extended to a minimum of 1,475 hours over two years.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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