LECTURERS at Durham University have dismissed plans announced by Boris Johnson at the Conservative Party Conference to provide a £3,000 “levelling up premium” to encourage the best maths, physics and chemistry teachers to work in more deprived areas.

Professors Stephen Gorard and Beng Huat See, from Durham University’s School of Education, say it won’t work.

Prof Gorard said: "The only policy announcement Boris Johnson made in his Conservative party conference speech, as many have pointed out, was a £3,000 “levelling-up premium” for teachers.

"The idea, to entice maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers to take jobs in schools serving disadvantaged areas, sounds plausible. And being taught by specialist teachers could encourage young people to enter relevant careers.

"These new incentives are not intended to attract more people into teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects - merely to move existing specialist teachers to new areas. So the first issue to consider is whether there are enough teachers in these Stem subjects.

If there is no overall surplus nationally, then enticing teachers to some areas might leave other areas understaffed. That could result in a fairer distribution of teaching resource, but it would be an equality of insufficiency."

Prof Huat See said: "It is hard to say how many teachers is enough. But our research shows that salary increases (within the usual ranges), bonuses and cash incentives do not attract people to teaching - however popular they might be for those already intending to become teachers.

"The Department for Education’s own research indicates that those training to teach Stem subjects are less likely to enter teaching after they qualify than newly qualified teachers in other subjects. Also, those who did were less likely to stay. Bursaries do not, generally, attract shortage-subject teachers to state-funded schools.

"Announcements like this one are a quick fix. They suggest that a government is doing something. The major problem, though, is that it is not clear whether they work."

Read More: 'Levelling up' teacher premium will not work

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