Teachers should have their student debt erased after seven years, a report looking at the “worrying” state of teaching recruitment has suggested.
Under this system of “forgivable fees”, teachers who start work in their early twenties would be free of tuition fee debt by the age of 30 in an attempt to make the profession more appealing.
“There are worrying signs that the profession is failing to attract enough entrants and failing to retain existing teachers,” author of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report John Cater said.
“It is the time for all stakeholders to work together to ensure that an emerging issue does not manifest itself into a crisis which affects the life chances of a generation.”
According to official government statistics, the number of full-time secondary school teachers fell by 10,000 between 2010 and 2015.
Research released earlier this week also revealed that more than a quarter of teachers in some key subjects, such as physics, do not have a degree in that field.
The “forgivable fees” could replace the current bursary system, the report suggests, with researchers claiming that a minority of trainees are attracted by the bursary and only intend to remain in the profession for a couple of years.
In addition to this, the report says physical working conditions in schools should be improved and the career progression of teachers should be clarified to make the profession more attractive to graduates.
“Policymakers love to meddle in teacher training,” HEPI director Nick Hillman said.
“In recent times, they have tried to shift the training out of universities and into schools. But the numbers speak for themselves: in every year between 2013 and 2016, teacher recruitment missed its targets,” he continued.
“Large sums have been splurged on bursaries for trainee teachers to stem the flow, but without much effect.”
Hillman continued: “After the election, the new government will need to consider this issue afresh.
“Otherwise, children being born today will not be guaranteed the schooling they deserve.”