Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation
Mr David Blunkett (Secretary of State, Department for Education and Employment; Sheffield, Brightside, Labour)
There are indeed. By trying to recruit more teachers, rather than fewer; by recruiting an extra 7,000 teachers in the past two years while seeking to reduce class sizes and ensure not only in-service training for mainstream teachers but training for supply teachers; by putting in place booster classes that are attractive to supply teachers; and by offering professional development courses that teachers find attractive, but which require cover, we are perhaps making a rod for our own back in trying to match supply and demand. That is particularly true in high-cost area; in which attractive salaries can be paid and there are additional costs. That is why the review body report recommended substantial uplifts of 30 per cent. in London weighting and outer-London weighting and retention bonuses of £5,000 a year to be rolled into a £15,000 package of retention over three years. That is why performance-related pay, which we introduced, is so critical. It offers not simply an uplift of £2,000 for good teachers but access to new pay scales of an additional £4,000. That will make a difference to retaining as well as attracting teachers.
This afternoon's package will deal with the problem of how we get people back into the profession now. The immediate £2,000 incentive—£4,000 for shortage subjects, which matches the bonus that is already in place for new recruits to the profession—will, I hope, be an attractive proposition, but it needs to be matched by other measures. Those measures will include an acceleration of the graduate teacher programme and a £35 million programme of funded measures this year, to be matched by at least £35 million in the next financial year. The money will go directly to head teachers and governors, without bureaucracy and administrative difficulty. There has to be co-ordination. We want a light-touch approach at local authority or area level, using the recruitment managers who are already paid for by the Department and are in place.
The money will enable head teachers to pay for additional housing costs and for care components, if needed, to help returners with the costs of child care and of caring for older relatives. It will enable travel costs to be met and changes to incremental scales to be offered. The scale on which a post is offered can be changed to meet the needs of a returner, whether that person has just had a family or took early retirement.
I was tickled to hear that one of the agencies had written to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough, an ex-head teacher, to ask whether he would like to come back to the profession. I gather that he has reserved his position until after the election—a wise man. I have been out of the profession for so long that no one has sent me anything, but one never knows.
The new funding will be made available immediately, but through the review body we will simultaneously consult to avoid any misunderstandings or allegations that we did not consult. We will ensure that the money is made available as speedily as possible to those who return to the profession.
I hope that the measures will enable us to say to people on the edge of returning to the profession that this is an appropriate moment to do so. We will offer free update courses of six weeks and child care provision. We will also pay a bursary during those six weeks so that there is no disadvantage to the family.