‘Grossly unfair’: DfE excludes ITP teachers from £6k bonus scheme

Ministers have extended 'levelling up premium' payments to FE, but only for colleges

Ministers have extended 'levelling up premium' payments to FE, but only for colleges

23 Apr 2024, 12:02

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FE teachers will be eligible for a “levelling up premium” payment of up to £6,000 from this autumn – but staff in independent training providers have controversially been excluded.

Ministers are extending the scheme, launched before the pandemic for school teachers, to those in further education as part of their efforts to improve teacher recruitment and retention in the sector.

It targets seven subjects linked to “critical skills priorities” and with the highest unfilled vacancy rates in the “statutory” FE sector, including maths, engineering and construction as well as early years.

However, teachers in independent training providers won’t receive the payments. It will only be open to workers in general FE colleges, sixth-form colleges, designated institutions, and 16-to-19-only academies and free schools.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) labelled the move as “grossly unfair and a kick in the teeth for those learning outside the college or school system”.

Defending the decision, the DfE told FE Week it is “necessary to focus the levelling up premium where it has the most impact on 16 to 19 teaching for key STEM and technical shortage subjects”, adding that the “majority” of this provision “takes place in statutory settings”.

Workforce data published last year by the DfE showed the median average annual salary for teachers in general FE colleges is already over £5,000 more than in independent training providers.

Ben Rowland, AELP chief executive, warned that introducing incentives for people working at some types of providers but not others “will make recruitment for ITPs even harder, hitting their learners disproportionately”.

He said: “Staff at independent training providers carry out crucial work in delivering training in many of the specific subjects eligible for payments under the levelling up premium. Despite this, they are being blocked from accessing funding purely because of the type of institution they work for.

“This is grossly unfair and there will be a lot of staff at ITPs upset at losing out; quite frankly, it’s a kick in the teeth for those working outside the college or school system.”

Announcing that eligible FE teachers will be able to apply for the payments from this September, education secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Teachers are the heart of our education system, inspiring young people and shaping future generations.

“By offering incentives of up to £6,000, we’re ensuring schools and colleges can support the recruitment and retention of dedicated teachers in high-priority subjects and in the areas that need them most.”

Who can claim?

The seven eligible subject areas are: 

·         Building and construction

·         Chemistry

·         Computing, including digital and ICT

·         Early years

·         Engineering and manufacturing, including transport engineering and electronics

·         Maths

·         Physics

See below for the full list of eligible FE courses. 

Only teachers in the first five years of their teaching will be eligible. So, anybody employed as a teacher in FE in the 2019/20 academic year or before cannot apply.

Teachers can apply for payments if they are contracted to teach more than 2.5 hours a week and spend at least half of their hours teaching 16- to 19-year-olds (including people up to the age of 25 with an EHCP).

But they must not be currently subject to “any formal performance measures as a result of continuous poor teaching standards” or subject to disciplinary action.

Teachers must also either already hold a teaching qualification, be working towards a teaching qualification, or have plans to start to work towards one within the next 12 months.

Levelling up premium payments, which will be tax-free, will range from £2,000 to £6,000, depending on the type of provider and number of hours taught.

For example, a teacher at an FE provider who has “higher levels of disadvantage” will receive a higher payment. DfE said it will publish a list of eligible FE providers and the matching value of payment by summer 2024.

But the department said it “expects” eligible teachers at most general FE colleges will be eligible for the top payment of £6,000 if they teach at least 12 hours a week.

Those on a “break in teaching” such as for sickness, maternity or paternity leave will still be eligible. 

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “This extra funding will help attract and retain key staff in colleges, so I welcome the expansion of the Levelling Up premium.

“The issue of teacher recruitment is one of the most pressing challenges facing the sector, particularly in these key areas where experts working in industry are likely to earn salaries significantly beyond those of teachers.”

Applications open in September 2024 and claims must be made by March 31, 2025.

Full list of eligible courses

Building and constructionESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the building and construction sector subject area
 T Level in building services engineering for construction
 T Level in on-site construction
 T Level in design, surveying and planning for construction
 level 2 or level 3 apprenticeships in the construction and the built environment occupational route
ChemistryA or AS level in chemistry
 GCSE in chemistry
 International Baccalaureate middle years programme or certificate in chemistry
ComputingESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the ICT practitioners sector subject area
 ESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the ICT for users sector subject area
 digital functional skills qualifications and essential digital skills qualifications
 T Level in digital support services
 T Level in digital business services
 T Level in digital production, design and development
 International Baccalaureate certificate in computer science
 level 2 or level 3 apprenticeships in the digital occupational route
Early yearsearly years practitioner (level 2) apprenticeship
 early years educator (level 3) apprenticeship
 T Level in education and early years (early years educator)
 a course that leads to an early years qualification which enables providers to count the recipient in staff:child ratios
Engineering and manufacturingESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the engineering sector subject area
 ESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the manufacturing technologies sector subject area
 ESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the transportation operations and maintenance sector subject area
 T Level in design and development for engineering and manufacturing
 T Level in maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
 T Level in engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
 level 2 or level 3 apprenticeships in the engineering and manufacturing occupational route
MathsESFA-funded qualifications at level 3 and below in the mathematics and statistics sector subject area
 GCSE in maths, functional skills qualifications and other maths qualifications approved for teaching to 16- to 19-year-olds who meet the condition of funding
PhysicsA or AS level in physics
 GCSE in physics
 International Baccalaureate middle years programme or certificate in physics
Source: DfE

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  1. Undervalued

    Classic strategy from the divisive playbook.

    Create and uneven playing field so you set one side against the other.

    Even for the few that get it, a one off payment won’t close the pay gap or ‘real terms’ pay decrease over the last 15 years.

    I’m pretty sure the AOC will lap it up, to divert attention from them recommending below inflation pay awards for years and being largely ineffective in arguing for more funding.

    Will it reach any of the 20% of staff on zero hours contracts?

  2. Albert Wright

    “By offering incentives of up to £6,000, we’re ensuring schools and colleges can support the recruitment and retention of dedicated teachers in high-priority subjects and in the areas that need them most.”

    How will a single one off payment of £6,000 or less help “recruitment and retention”?

    How can such a payment be tax free? It is income. Where do HMRC say it can be tax free?

    Why is it restricted to teachers working less tha 5 years? Do older teachers doing exactly the same job not have rights? This is age descrimination.

    How can a Tory Government that believes in the market economy benefit only public sector workers?

    AELP should challenge this initiative in the Courts.

  3. Steve Hewitt

    If the “majority” of eligible teachers are in grant-funded providers then surely it wouldn’t cost much more to roll the scheme out to everyone? Given ITPs who work with 16-19s are often working with those at the lowest levels, with the most need, this is another kick in the teeth…

  4. brenda mcleish

    Some ITPs deliver significantly more study programme learners than many FE colleges so to say this is to support 16-18 provision which is mainly delivered is colleges is ludicrous!!!!

    • Mark Harrod

      I just find it ironic, bordering on hilarious that they have called it Levelling up money. It is far from level and there has never been a level playing field when it comes to ITP’s and Colleges. The term Grant Funded pretty much says it all.
      I just wish it was level and that ITP’s received the same stability, security and the same funding opportunities as the FE system.

      Oh well nothing new and just the same old same old!