Questions raised as pilot of new National Teaching Service begins

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

The pilot of the government’s new National Teaching Service (NTS) has begun – but questions remain over the impact it will have on participating teachers’ pay.

The NTS was announced last year by education secretary Nicky Morgan and is being touted by the Department for Education (DfE) as a strategy to help tackle the recruitment crisis.

The aim is for the NTS to recruit “top teaching talent” and match them to schools that are struggling to attract and keep teachers. Ms Morgan has pledged to recruit 1,500 teachers by 2020.

The NTS is due to launch nationally in 2017, but the pilot is initially attempting to recruit 100 teachers to start work this September. It covers eligible primary and secondary schools in Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

During the pilot, the DfE says it will predominantly be targeting struggling schools in rural and coastal areas. Schools will be eligible if they were graded 3 or 4 in their last inspection, are below floor standards, or at risk of falling below floor standards. They also need to have advertised a vacancy at least twice without having filled it.

Meanwhile, teachers applying to the NTS must have been in a post for at least three years and will need to “demonstrate how your teaching and leadership has positively improved outcomes and attainment for pupils”.

Guidance for schools and teachers published by the National College for Teaching and Leadership states that schools must employ the matched teacher to a permanent position and offer mentoring by a senior leadership team member.

Teachers, it adds, will be supported with “relocation, temporary accommodation or commuting costs”.

However, no details have been forthcoming about pay and whether NTS teachers will transfer on their existing salaries, will receive additional remuneration, or indeed whether some could lose out, such as those moving from London where wages are higher.

It is an issue the NASUWT has raised in a letter to Ms Morgan. The union has called for the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) to be asked to examine the scheme.

The STRB is currently considering evidence before it makes recommendations for the September 2016 pay awards. In its submission to the STRB, the NASUWT states: “There was no consultation on the development of the NTS and there are potential implications for pay and conditions of service. The NASUWT has queried, therefore, with the secretary of state why it has not been included in a Review Body remit.”

As such, the NASUWT has not yet backed the NTS and has warned its members that “fundamental questions” on how the scheme will work are yet to be answered.

The NTS comes after the latest initial teacher training figures, published late last year, saw only three subjects – history, English and PE – hit their targets for 2015/16.

It means that secondary recruitment targets have not been hit for three years in succession and only 82 per cent of teacher training places have been filled for 2015/16 – 3,400 teachers short of what is needed.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: “The National Teaching Service will match some of our best teachers and middle leaders to schools that need them most, and is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to take on a new challenge and further their careers. We have already received hundreds of expressions of interest and I want to encourage even more top teachers and middle leaders to apply and be part of our mission to extend opportunity to young people across the North West from September 2016.”

The exact areas where the pilot will support schools are: Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Calderdale, Halton, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lancashire, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wakefield, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral.

Teachers and eligible schools must apply by March 11. For more details, visit guidance/national-teaching-service-for-schools

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