The impact of training bursaries on teacher recruitment and retention: An evaluation of impact and value for money

Dawson McLean, Sarah Tang and Jack Worth

09 November 2023

This research provides evidence on the long-term effectiveness of bursaries for improving teacher recruitment and retention and their cost effectiveness compared to other policy options. 

The project, funded by the Gatsby Foundation, uses data from the ITT Performance Profiles (ITT-PP) and the School Workforce Census (SWC), to estimate the impact of bursaries on key longer-term teacher outcomes, including qualified teacher status (QTS) achievement, entry into state-sector teaching and retention in the state sector.

The research suggests that policymakers have a range of effective tools at their disposal for addressing recruitment and retention, which all show good levels of cost effectiveness, and bursaries are one of them.

Key Findings

  • Bursary increases are associated with  increases in recruitment into initial teacher training.
  • Overall, bursary increases are associated with a sustained increase in long-term teacher supply. We find that the additional teachers induced to enter training by a bursary increase tended to complete their training, enter teaching and be retained in teaching  at the same rate as other teachers in their cohort.
  • The additional teachers are also more likely to teach in schools  that tend to struggle most with filling vacancies, such as schools in London and schools serving disadvantaged communities. Bursaries are therefore an effective policy tool for addressing national teacher shortages and the associated staffing challenges in the most affected schools.
  • We also find that bursaries offer  good cost effectiveness compared to other targeted policy measures such as early career payments, especially where the existing bursary for a subject is low. Our analysis suggests that an additional £100m spent on bursaries (including the extra indirect costs such as teacher training costs) in shortage subjects would have a similar impact on overall teacher supply compared to same-cost increases in early career payments and pay increases targeted at early career teachers or secondary teachers.

Sponsor Details

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation