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News article

Redistributing excellence

27 May 2016

New research showing that thousands of England's teachers are willing to move school - and even move home - to take on the challenge of raising standards and improving the life chances of some of the country's most disadvantaged schools and pupils.

The research [report will open in a new window] comes at a time when the UK government is set to introduce its new National Teaching Service, which aims to relocate 1500 of the country's best teachers, on a voluntary basis, to the schools that need them most. The scheme is the government’s response to findings in its 2016 White Paper (Education Excellence Everywhere) which found that while standards are going up in many urban schools in sought-after cities, other hard to reach parts of the country are being left behind.

Education Development Trust surveyed and interviewed over 800 teachers. Key findings include:

  • almost three quarters of teachers (72%) would be willing to consider a scheme like the National Teaching Service
  • moral purpose – "the ability to make a difference / potential for impact" – was the overwhelming motive for those who would consider it (96%)
  • a very large majority (81%) agreed that schemes like the National Teaching Service would create fairer chances for all pupils

However, the research shows that the enthusiasm comes with a warning: teachers must have confidence that they will be supported in making a move and supported in making a success of it.

Relocation packages, such as those offered in Australia, are seen as strong motivating factors for teachers to move, but so too is structural support.  Of those interested, 81% said that training, mentoring and peer support would make a relocation scheme "attractive" or "very attractive", not least since they would be moving, knowingly, into what are likely to be more professionally challenging environments.

Research co-author Richard King highlighted the strength of teachers' motivation to help bridge the education gap:

"Our research shows the extraordinary willingness of teachers to uproot their own lives – and even that of their families – to take on the challenge of extending life chances of students in hard to reach schools. 

"Teachers are driven by a moral purpose and the conviction that they can bridge the attainment gap.  I cannot think of another profession that has shown a comparable willingness to relocate."

Education Development Trust CEO Steve Munby pointed out the lessons for policy-makers saying:

"This research shows the potential for teachers not just to make a success of the government's NTS but to contribute to driving up standards in hard to reach schools on a much broader scale. However, this will only happen if they are provided with the tools they need to get the job done. Give teachers the right support package, with the mentors and resources they need to be confident of success, and succeed is precisely what they will do."