A scheme to repay the students loans of newly qualified teachers working in shortage subjects has been thrown into confusion over the time-scales for applications, writes Dorothy Lepkowska.
Some NQTs who began full-time jobs in September found they missed the November deadline for applications if their schools had technically employed and paid them over the summer. Those who were paid from September 1, 2004, have until next November to apply for the repayment of teachers'
loans (RTL) scheme.
The deadlines have caught hundreds of teachers off-guard because it is not clear in the guidelines that teachers hired and paid before September 1 fall into the previous year's time-table for payments.
New teachers have also complained that forms and paperwork have been lost, delaying the processing of applications.
One teacher, whose local authority operates a six-term year, meaning that the autumn term begins in August, was caught out in the confusion. "I phoned the helpline and was told that the deadline for me was 30 November 2004," he told The TES website, "and, whilst this was not flexible, they said they would probably look at applications after this date."
Another correspondent said: "The student loans company keep losing my paperwork. They have given me a deadline in January to return the paperwork I returned in November, but seem reluctant to issue any new paperwork for me to complete. I get comments like 'We'll have a look around to see if it turn up first'."
Sara Bubb, the TES induction expert, said: "The system does seem to be in complete confusion. It is also unclear when this scheme will actually end.
At the moment it seems it will be in 2005.
"It has also disadvantaged those who have scrimped and saved not to borrow money, who will receive nothing. The RTL has encouraged a loans'
No one from the Department for Education and Skills or the Student Loans Company was available for comment over the holiday season.
Further details and an explanation of the RTL scheme can be found at www.teachernet.gov.ukprofessionaldevelopmentcareerbecomingateacherteach