There were just two bids for the contract to deliver the Scottish government’s flagship new route into teaching, it has emerged.
The government announced last month that the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Dundee had jointly won the tender for a new teacher education programme for high-quality graduates in shortage subjects.
The creation of the new route has been controversial due to concerns that it would allow Teach First to expand into Scotland, leading to universities being bypassed. Teach First denied that it wanted to bypass universities, but bowed out of the bidding process, saying that the timescales were too tight.
Now a freedom of information request by Tes Scotland has revealed that the government received just two bids for the contract, which is worth over £250,000. There was the winning joint bid and a losing bid from the University of Glasgow.
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith blamed the small number of bidders on the timescale they were given, which she said was too short. She said the Scottish government had failed to appreciate how long it takes to put a comprehensive, well-researched bid together.
'Short space of time' to submit bids
The situation was not “ideal”, given that £270,000 of public money was being spent, she said.
Ms Smith added: “I know of several organisations – not just Teach First – who were not able to get bids together in the short space of time. This was something that required a lot of work, and I think they had two or three months.”
The winning bid is due to get underway in December, with students expected to emerge 18 months later as fully qualified teachers.
The route is aimed at those living in rural areas with a minimum 2:1 honours degree in chemistry, physics, home economics, maths or engineering.
The UHI and Dundee hope to offer bursaries worth £22,866 to students taking the course – equivalent to the salary of a probationer teacher.
In its ultimately unsuccessful bid, the University of Glasgow outlined plans for a six-week international placement for students on the route.
It also wanted students to receive the new £20,000 science, technology, engineering and maths bursary while they were training, and said the course would give students “the opportunity to engage with world-renowned scientists at the University of Glasgow”.
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “The Attracting High-Quality Graduates into Teaching contract was tendered under an open procedure in accordance with the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
"Twohigh-qualityy bids were received and, after due assessment, the successful bid was awarded. That bid will deliver a real boost to initial teacher education in Scotland.”