Biggest postgrad scheme is agreed

ABOUT 1,000 teachers a year will have their postgraduate degrees subsidised in a deal that has just been approved despite a shadow being cast over the future of the government-funded scheme.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Edge Hill University, England's biggest teacher training college, have announced a deal to provide postgraduate professional development to masters level. Union members will receive about pound;1,000 in government subsidies when they fit a masters degree around their teaching.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said its 160,000 members realised how important good quality professional development was to their career development. The Training and Development Agency for Schools describes the deal as the biggest postgraduate development scheme thus far.

"The ATL has a good reputation for taking into account of the members' continuing professional development needs; Edge Hill is an excellent provider," said Graham Holley, the agency's chief executive.

But the deal has been agreed as part of the agency's pound;20 million post-graduate professional development scheme, which could be under threat in its current form.

Jim Knight, the school standards minister, has asked Mr Holley to consider whether it is appropriate that the agency continues to provide the scheme.

He is clearly signalling that he wants to leave CPD to the market and that the agency's role should be to oversee this.

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