Education should be seen as an investment in this country's future
Sept. 27, 2023
It’s often said that teachers are the backbone of our society. They dedicate their working lives to developing children with the knowledge, skills, and character they need to succeed in life, and play an integral role in supporting young people’s wellbeing. But what’s less commonly appreciated is the way in which teachers fuel our economy.
To illustrate this, a research report from the microeconomics consultancy Frontier Economics shows that investing in teachers could generate billions of pounds in economic growth.
That’s why, as education system leaders and economists, we are calling on politicians to put long-term investment in teachers and education at the core of their plans to stimulate the UK economy.
Frontier Economics’ research explores the potential economic impact of every child benefiting from a higher quality of teaching during just five years of their schooling. Based on a conservative estimate of the resultant uplift, they predict that, within two decades, the annual earnings of those in employment would grow by almost £10 billion.
The report suggests this change could be brought about through significantly expanding the support available for teachers to fulfil their potential through high quality professional development, and describes this as ‘the most cost-effective policy lever available for improving schools’.
We need people to want to be teachers and to stay in the profession – we must give them the support they need and deserve. Our teachers – who have carried communities through so much in recent years – deserve a clear signal that our society values them as professionals and recognises the vital role they play in our communities and economy.
It takes time for the full effects of high quality teaching to materialise in our economy, for the simple reason that the children who directly benefit are not yet active participants in the labour market. But even within a decade of teaching standards being raised in this way, earnings would begin to grow by £2.6 billion annually, with a corresponding increase of £870 million in income tax revenue. This is over three times more than the government currently spends on supporting teachers’ professional development each year.
Importantly, research shows that disadvantaged children are more likely to be taught by less experienced teachers, so moving to invest more in teachers would have a significant positive impact on inequality and social mobility.
We believe that politicians from all parties should seek to unlock the full economic value of the services and institutions that shape our communities – starting with our schools. That means taking urgent action to address the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, treating teachers with the respect and recognition that they deserve as members of a vital and skilled profession, and recognising that to invest in our education system is to invest in our future. After all, it is today’s teachers who are shaping the workforce of tomorrow.
Ensuring that our children get the education they deserve will be key to getting Britain growing again. We encourage politicians and policy-makers to take note of this research and act.
Emma Balchin and Emma Knights OBE, Co-Chief Executives, National Governance Association
Rebecca Boomer-Clark, Chief Executive Officer, Academies Enterprise Trust
Nick Brook, Chief Executive Officer, Speakers for Schools
Ben Bryant, Director, Isos Partnership
Samantha Butters and Gina Cicerone, Co-Chief Executive Officers, Fair Education Alliance
Kate Chhatwal OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Challenge Partners
Gareth Conyard, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Teacher Development Trust
Corin Crane, Chief Executive, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Leora Cruddas CBE, Chief Executive, Confederation of School Trusts
Sam Freedman, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government
Joe Hallgarten, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Education and Youth
Lucy Heller, Chief Executive, Ark
Russell Hobby CBE, Chief Executive Officer, Teach First
Emma Hollis, Executive Director, National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers
Raj Kandola, Director of External Affairs, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Lindsey MacMillan, Professor of Economics and the Founding Director of the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
Sarah Moorhouse, Chief Executive Officer, Black Country Chamber of Commerce
Lord Jim O’Neill, Chair, Northern Powerhouse Partnership
Martin O’Neill, Professor of Political Philosophy, University of York
Alison Peacock OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Chartered College of Teaching
Tom Rees, Chief Executive Officer, Ormiston Academies Trust
Ruth Ross, Chief Executive Officer, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce
Jonathan Simons, Partner and Head of the Education Practice, Public First
Hilary Spencer, Chief Executive Officer, Ambition Institute
John Tomaney, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, UCL Bartlett School of Planning
Sam Twiselton OBE, Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland and Founding Director of the Sheffield Institute of Education
Carl Ward, Executive Chair, Foundation for Education Development
Li Wei, Director and Dean, UCL Institute of Education