Bursaries for primary teacher trainees to end next year

But there are rises for biology and English teachers – and new retention payments for maths teachers

Helen Ward

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There will be no bursaries for students to train as primary teachers next year, the Department for Education has announced.

The £3,000 currently available for primary teacher trainees with a First or PhD to train as a teacher is being discontinued, DfE guidance says.

But bursaries for students wanting to train as biology and English teachers next year have increased dramatically.

A would-be biology teacher can get £26,000 to train as a teacher next year, if they have a First, 2:1 or 2:2 degree.

This is up from the £15,000 bursary a biology trainee could receive this year if they have a First, the £12,000 if they have a 2:1 or the £10,000 offered if they have a 2:2.

Bursaries for English teachers have also jumped from £9,000 for those with First or 2:1 degrees in the current academic year to £15,000 next year – a bursary that will be open to those with 2:2 degrees as well.

Physics bursaries are still among the highest but have dropped from a top rate of £30,000 in 2017-18 to £26,000 in 2018-19.

Similarly, the physics scholarship – available from professional bodies – will drop from £30,000 to £28,000.

Maths trainees can now get up to £35,000 – but not in one go. The government has put in place an up-front bursary of £20,000, or scholarship of £22,000, with two further “early career payments” available as retention incentives.

Under this scheme, eligible maths teachers will get £5,000 in each of their third and fifth year of teaching, if they have taught in a state-funded school in England since completing their ITT course. These payments will rise to £7,500 each in selected local authorities.

It comes after criticism that large bursaries are not helping to retain teachers in the profession.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: “I think it is a mistake to get rid of bursaries for primary.

"I think we need to encourage the best people into teacher training and it helps to get a balance of people if people are not put off for financial reasons. I also think there is a supply problem. I think the government is underestimating the need for new primary trainees.”

The amount on offer for primary trainees has declined in recent years. In 2015, primary trainees with a First could get a £9,000 bursary and those with a 2:1 could get £4,000.

In September 2016, the number of primary teachers placed on courses dropped more than 2,000 compared to the previous year.

And statistics published by the DfE earlier this year revealed that teacher vacancy rates rose in 2016.

Nick Gibb, minister for school standards, said: "Bursaries have enabled thousands of talented people to become teachers. They continue to incentivise applications in the core subjects that equip pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their potential.

“Incentives are targeted to ensure teachers are recruited where they are needed most. From 2018, we are increasing funding across all high priority subjects and we will continue to offer generous bursaries and grant funding to ensure teaching remains an attractive profession for top graduates.”

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