Paying early career science teachers 5% more keeps significant numbers in the classroom

20 April 2022 Agnes Donnelly

Gatsby has today released a report by Dr Sam Sims and Dr Asma Benhenda from UCL that evaluated the DfE’s Retention Payment (RP) policy that offered early career maths and physics teachers in some areas of the country a retention payment of £2,000 after tax per annum.

The report, “The effect of financial incentives on the retention of shortage-subject teachers: evidence from England” is accompanied by a Gatsby policy summary and examined whether paying teachers in England a salary supplement had any effect on the numbers choosing to leave the profession.

The results are consistent with previous research and show that teachers who received the retention payment were 23% less likely to leave teaching when compared with ineligible teachers. Without the retention payment, we would normally expect that for every 100 maths teachers who complete their training and enter the classroom, 17 would leave within their first two years of teaching. Applying the RP policy meant that only 13 teachers left the classroom, retaining an additional four.

The cost of the applying the retention policy is similar to the cost of simply training additional teachers but improving retention also increases the number of experienced teachers in the classroom.

Dr Sam Sims, co-author of the report and lecturer at UCL, said:
“Year after year, our schools face shortages of maths and physics teachers. But this research shows that targeted pay increases help retain teachers, and ensures that more pupils have access to specialist teachers in these subjects.” Sam Sims, Lecturer at UCL

Jenni French from Gatsby said:
“It is encouraging to see that paying salary premiums can have an effect on the number of teachers choosing to remain in the classroom. However, we urge that as part of the evaluation of the levelling-up premium, consideration is given to making greater use of data to track the long-term impact of the premium alongside other teacher retention measures such as the Early Years Career Framework.” 

The report can be accessed here. 
The summary paper can be accessed here.