New DFE Strategy unveiled to boost teacher numbers

Published: Friday February 15 2019 by Melanie Crewe

New DFE Strategy unveiled to boost teacher numbers and retention by offering greater working benefits, support and working pattern options for teaching staff


According to a recent report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) the number of secondary pupils is forecast to increase by 19 per cent over the next decade. Alongside recruitment challenges, many schools are also struggling to retain teaching staff- a 2017 National Audit office report, Retaining and developing the teaching workforce, revealed schools filled just half of their vacancies with teachers who have the experience and expertise required and, in around one tenth of cases, failed to fill their posts.

The DFE have recently set out their first-ever clearly defined integrated strategy in order to address these issues and to demonstrate how attractive, rewarding and sustainable teaching careers will become.

Teachers in England will receive early career support, increased opportunities for flexible and part-time working, and a reduction in their workload- which has been wholeheartedly welcomed by teachers, education unions and leading professional bodies and training providers.

The strategy outlined on the DFE website includes:

  • The ‘Early Career Framework’ which has been backed by at least £130 million a year in extra funding- the most significant reform to teaching since it became a graduate-only profession. This will underpin an entitlement to a funded 2-year support package for all new teachers. The package will include a designated mentor and a reduced timetable so that teachers can make the most of their training and focus on their professional development, build their confidence and hone their skills. The two years of quality, structured development can enable people to flourish into highly effective teachers and retain the passion to want to develop into established leaders.
  • Bursaries will be reformed to include retention-based payments for those who stay in the profession, by staggering additional payments throughout the first years of their career.
  • The application process for initial teacher training will be simplified by introducing a ‘one-stop’ system, with the newly launched ‘Discover Teaching’ programme also making it easier for more people to experience classroom teaching before they apply.
  • Working with Ofsted to simplify the accountability system and reduce any unnecessary pressure it places on teachers. Staff workload will now be considered as part of a school’s inspection judgement. Non-teaching tasks such as excessive data entry, marking and admin will be kept to a minimum, where currently teachers are spending more than half their time on such onerous and time-consuming tasks. An Ofsted hotline for head teachers will be introduced to enable them to directly report any breaches of its commitments around the information schools do not need to provide to inspectors, including internal assessment data.
  • Accommodating for changes in the life circumstances of teachers whereby more flexibility is required, by creating a more diverse range of options for career progression. Schools will be encouraged to introduce flexible working practices through a new digital match-making service for teachers seeking a job-share partner, and to develop specialist qualifications and non-leadership career routes for teachers that want to stay in the classroom. Education Technology (EdTech) providers will be challenged to see how innovative timetabling solutions can help support part-time and flexible working patterns.
  • £10 million will also be invested to create regional centres of excellence to facilitate sharing of best practice on classroom and behaviour management.


DFE Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“This ambitious strategy commits to supporting teachers- particularly those at the start of their career- to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in their classrooms. In a competitive graduate labour market, we must continue to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession so we can train and retrain the next generation of inspirational teachers. Working with teachers, school leaders, trusts and unions, this strategy will help teachers do what they do best- teach.”

Working on a supply basis in an agency provides our teachers and support staff with greater opportunity to achieve a work/life balance. Justteachers has gone one step further and created the ‘Flexi’ programme that allows schools to engage more than one teacher on a job share/ part-time basis to fulfil one full time role.

The overwhelming amount of support of our ‘Flexi’ programme from both schools and teaching staff echoes the need for this strategy to be rolled out on a nationwide scale. Our participating schools have noted the value it adds to the classroom and the continuity with PPA and handovers.

If you would like to know more about our Flexi programme, please visit: or alternatively call 0800 832 243 to speak to a consultant in your area.

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