Teachers are to be let off student loan repayments as a reward for not quitting their jobs, the Conservative Party has announced.
In its election manifesto, the party said it will offer forgiveness on payments for all new teachers in order to help them “remain in the profession”.
The proposals follow concerns over a teacher recruitment and retention crisis that has led to dramatic staff shortages across the country in recent years.
Earlier this year a cross-party board of MPs said “urgent action” was needed to address the problem, which is set to worsen as pupil numbers are expected to soar to 3.3million over the next three years.
“Dedicated support” will also be brought in to help teachers throughout their careers, the manifesto document states, following union demands to address workload pressures they say are driving thousands of teachers away from the profession.
Commenting on the announcement, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are pleased to see that the Conservatives are promising ‘forgiveness’ on student loan repayments to help attract people into teaching.
“Our proposal is that the government should commit to pay off the annual repayment of tuition fee and maintenance loans owed by teachers for as long as they remain in the state school system.
“The loan could be written off entirely after a certain period, for instance ten years. We believe that this approach would help to address the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis, although other actions will also be needed.”
Scrapping debts for teachers has been suggested by a number of education organisations and charities in recent years.
Following the announcement of the new manifesto, social media users welcomed the suggestion, likening it to a “pay rise” for teachers.
But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said the proposals were not enough to solve the ongoing shortage.
General Secretary, Dr…