Heads are wondering today how to satisfy their teachers' training demands after it emerged that funds for the continuing professional development programme had been wiped out.
The General Teaching Council for Wales, which administers the programme, said this week that the Pounds 3 million training pot - roughly Pounds 100 for every full-time teacher - had dried up in six months. No more is available until next April.
But despite high demand and teachers' enthusiasm for self-improvement, a council spokesperson said there would be no top-up money from the government and the fund would be frozen at Pounds 3 million in 2009-10.
Brian Lightman, head of St Cyres School in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, said it was inconceivable funding had dried up at a time when the government was focusing on raising teaching performance by the networking of good practice.
"It will difficult to find the money to train my teachers; there is no longer as much in the Better Schools Fund.
"The amount of money available to each full teacher in Wales under the programme does not even pay for classroom cover."
Dr Phil Dixon, secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, said teachers had a legal right to access training agreed with managers in their performance reviews but often had to subsidise it themselves. He said many teachers believed local authority training to be inadequate.
The programme, operating on a first come, first served basis, aims to improve teaching skills. It includes research, sabbaticals and networks for sharing good practice.
Gary Brace, the GTCW chief executive, said: "We have experienced unprecedented demand for funding this year, with more than 3,700 teachers benefiting from individual grants and a further 850 involved with professional networks and group bursaries. The Pounds 3million budget has been unable to cope."
An Assembly government spokesperson said: "This year's high demand and take up the funding clearly demonstrates the enthusiasm of teachers for knowledge, self-reflection and continuous improvement. We have committed over Pounds 24 million to the CPD programme over seven years, enabling over 28,000 teachers to benefit from development opportunities.
"Over 4,500 individual development opportunities will have been funded for teachers in 2008-09, a very significant achievement."