‘I don’t understand what you’re saying!’ Charlie Stayt loses patience as Zahawi nods along

BBC Breakfast: Charlie Stayt questions Nadhim Zahawi

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Nadhim Zahawi spoke with the BBC Breakfast host following the Conservative Party Conference and focus was on claims plans to give some teachers an extra £3,000 to work in areas that need them most has been rehashed from a previous scheme which was scrapped. Charlie Stayt didn’t hold back as he demanded answers from the Secretary of State for Education. However, one painful moment saw Zahawi nod in agreement when Stayt pointed out he didn’t understand what was being said.

“Can we talk about teachers’ pay?” Stayt asked. “You spoke about an uplift. Can you explain that to us?”

Zahawi replied: “Yes absolutely. So, what we are trying to do is retain teachers in Maths, in Chemistry, in Computing, in Physics, especially in those schools in those disadvantaged areas that really need them.

“Those kids are talented but need that opportunity as well and this new scheme will allow teachers up to the first five years to take that additional up to £3,000.

“We know it works because we’ve seen it in other countries in the US and elsewhere that retention is increased by about 30 percent hence why I wanted to do this and the Prime Minister announced it in his Party conference speech.

“It’s an important part of the tools I want to make sure that we have to back teachers including getting starting salaries up to £30,000 a year.”

“People might be a little bit confused, not least teachers because this is the second time this particular policy has been announced by the government,” Stayt remarked.

“It was announced in 2019 and then recently ditched this idea of increased pay to get teachers into particular schools where they are needed most. Why was it dumped?”

“Well look, I’ve been in the department for now just over two weeks and when a particular policy works and I see the evidence in the UK and England but also from other countries, then you look at it and improve it,” Zahawi answered.

“So this one is a different policy, this one has eligibility criteria for up to five years. That I think is the right thing to do to make sure we retain as many teachers in Maths and Chemistry and Physics and computing.”

“I’m not sure that answers the question as to why it was ditched because that was quite recently,” Stayt hit back.

“This was in place, it was something your government was in favour of, it was ditched and has now been rehashed!”

Zahawi fumbled: “Well, look, what I want to do is make sure we deal with some of the gaps that we have, especially in the most disadvantaged areas, those schools that really need them.

“When I see a piece of policy that has worked and there is evidence that it works and there’s evidence from other countries it works then I’m a pragmatic Secretary of state, I don’t have a problem saying I’ll bring something back and improve it.

“Hence why this is a different policy. I think it is a good one, especially for those teachers who are starting out in the early years of education in years one to five.

“It is a good thing, it is a 10 percent uplift or bonus for retention. That’s a great thing I hope and the right thing to do. I’m pretty pragmatic about these kinds of things.”

Moving on to the pay freeze for those teachers who don’t meet the eligibility criteria, Stayt asked for “specifics” from Zahawi about how they would benefit from Boris Johnson’s promise of higher wages.

“Look I’m in the middle of a Spending Review negotiation with the treasury and we will say more about this in a couple of weeks time when that Spending Review is completed,” Zahawi insisted.

“All I would say to you is the average salary of a teacher is now £41,800. The increase because it’s not just inflation, and you’re right, there has been a pay freeze by teachers actually from 2021 back to 2020/2019.

“The increase is about seven percent because teachers have a path to increasing their salary as they improve and extend their experience.”

Clearly fed up with the answers he was getting, Stayt cut in: “Okay, if I may ‘m going to jump in because I don’t really understand what you’re saying.”

“Sure, sure,” Zahawi replied as he appeared to nod in agreement with the BBC Breakfast host.

Many watching at home were quick to brand the interview a “car crash” with Joan Newberry commenting: “#BBCBreakfast brilliant Charlie he doesn’t know what he is saying either!! Shame on him. Typically Tory at the moment.”

Mrs Ravers added: “Think Nadhim Zahawi needs to go back to bed + try again, he’s floundering around, well done to Charlie Stayt kept him on the ropes #bbcbreakfast.”

“@nadhimzahawi having a car crash on #bbcbreakfast. I would say it’s painful to watch but it’s good to see the tories finally starting to being held to account after their shambolic handling of the country. #ToriesMustGo,” Chris Jones continued.

BBC Breakfast airs daily on BBC One at 6am.

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