The subject associations of the UK have addressed a letter to the Secretary of State for Education

Published: 5th November 2020

Open letter to the Secretary of State for Education

Dear Gavin Williamson,

We are deeply concerned by the short-sighted decision to reduce and in many cases remove bursaries from trainees in a number of subjects and in primary teaching. Cutting off support conveys a strong signal as to the value of teaching in our society. Lack of financial support is likely to deter well-qualified and ambitious graduates due to these negative messages and potential hardship issues. Although we know that the size of bursary payments has always followed the economic cycle, making such an extreme change is likely to generate fresh problems in supply very quickly. Potential applicants, with a strong commitment to teaching as a career, who are aware of how much money has been lost this year may well conclude that they would be better off waiting for a year or two until a bursary has been reinstated. If providers struggle to recruit to target because of the complete lack of bursaries and cannot provide relevant subject routes within particular programmes as a result, valuable expertise and productive partnerships will be lost from the system, making it difficult to build back quickly when further supply is needed (as it inevitably will be.)

Not all of those coming into teaching are 22-year-old graduates who are already accustomed to taking on large student loans to cover fees as well as living expenses. Many of the most effective teachers are those who have valuable life or work experience in diverse roles, enabling them to offer young people a richer and more informed view of the value of what they are learning within the curriculum. It is potential career-changers who are most likely to be deterred by the prospect of accruing substantial debts in order to train as a teacher.

All of us who have signed up to this letter understand that current economic pressures might make this appear to be a short-term option but the impact on the profession will have serious long-term implications.

Directors, CEOs and Chairs of the following subject associations have all signed up to this letter:

  • Association for Citizenship Teaching
  • Association for Language Learning
  • Association for Physical Education
  • Association for Science Education
  • Association for the Teaching of Psychology
  • Classical Association
  • Computing at School
  • Design & Technology Association
  • Early Education
  • English Association
  • Geographical Association
  • Historical Association
  • Incorporated Society of Musicians
  • Joint Mathematical Council
  • Media Education Association
  • National Association for Special Educational Needs
  • National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum
  • National Associations for Teacher of Religious Education
  • National Association for Writers in Education
  • National Drama
  • National Society for Education in Art & Design
  • One Dance UK
  • PSHE Association
  • National Association for the Teaching of English
  • Technology, Pedagogy & Education Association
  • UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark
  • UK Literacy Association