Wilshaw calls for financial incentives to tackle teacher shortages

In Ofsted’s annual report, Wilshaw warns that teacher shortages are a real problem across England, and that more needs to be done to retain teachers in STEM subjects and stop teachers choosing to leave for independent schools or to teach abroad.

He suggests that financial incentives should be used to get trainees to start their careers in the schools and areas that need them most, including the possibility of a form of ‘golden handcuffs’ to encourage teachers to keep on working in the state system that trained them.

The report also addresses regionally discrepancies in teaching quality, with Wilshaw describing the North-South divide as ‘deeply troubling’.

More than 400,000 pupils in northern England and the Midlands are being taught in a secondary school that falls below Ofsted’s ‘good’ rating.

Due to the fact that there is not large disparity between primary schools in the North and South, Wilshaw says that the divide in secondary education is due to a lack of ‘political will’, as opposed to issues of relative wealth or poverty.

To address the divide, Wilshaw has called for a London Challenge-style campaign in weaker areas. The London Challenge was launched in 2003 with massive investment by the Labour government to improve the performance of the capital’s secondary schools. The result was a big turnaround for schools, particularly among disadvantaged pupils. Although the exact reason for this turnaround is still debated, it is thought that greater collaboration between schools was a key element.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Wilshaw said: “There’s a growing divide between the performance of secondary schools in London and the south and the performance of secondary schools in the Midlands and north.

“What we are saying very clearly in this report today is that the successful schools, and there are many of them in the north of England and the Midlands in those major towns, need to help those under-performing secondary schools in those satellite towns. So Leeds, for example, where there are a lot of good secondary schools, needs to help the languishing secondary schools in Bradford.

“If we can get good leaders into those schools, if we can get good teachers into those schools, if the culture of those schools improves, particularly if behaviour in those schools improves, then we will see better institutions.”

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