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Early days for skills scheme

THE initial lack of take-up for the pound;4,000 "Golden Hello" scheme for new FE teachers in shortage subjects clearly shows that a renewed focus is required to ensure maximum awareness and take-up.

Evidence from the Further Education National Training Organisation post-16 teaching helpline indicates greater awareness of the scheme in some parts of the country than others. There have been a significant number of helpline enquiries about the scheme from Merseyside, for example.

The Learning and Skills Council's decision to extend the scheme for three years is welcome, as is the commitment to ensure a higher public profile for it. FENTO and the LSC have been liaising on the publicity issues but there now needs to be wider marketing.

The scheme is designed specifically to assist in teacher recruitment and retention in shortage subjects. The DfES model for it was drawn up based on school-sector experience. It now requires further refocusing on FE priorities. Given the Government's major focus on adult basic skills, FENTO has already suggested strongly that literacy, numeracy and ESOL teachers should be included in the scheme. FENTO is prepared to assist DfES and LSC in any way to make the scheme more effective. It is still early days.

David Hunter

Chief executive, FENTO

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