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More trainee bursary cuts will harm recruitment, academics warn

Bursaries have already been slashed for those beginning courses this September and academics have warned further reductions could harm efforts to recruit new teachers.

The Government is also deciding whether fees for PGCE programmes should be increased. At present, the one-year course costs almost pound;4,000.

The financial support, which is tax-free, was introduced in 2000 in a bid to tempt top graduates into teaching. The Training and Development Agency for Schools met recruitment targets for the first time in 2009 and 2010.

This year, trainees specialising in modern languages, music and RE saw their cash cut from pound;9,000 to pound;6,000; those on courses in PE, art, business studies, citizenship, dance and drama, and history now receive just pound;4,000 - down from pound;6,000.

Trainees studying to teach the sciences, maths and IT - which are still regarded as priority subjects - continue to get pound;9,000, but combined science students receive pound;6,000 instead of pound;9,000.

The Department for Education is set to announce details of financial support for trainees in 2012 imminently.

Debra Myhill, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Exeter University, expects cuts to bursaries.

"It's a logical step if you are cutting public spending - they have already been cut back, so it is obvious there are more cuts to come," she said.

"They have been an inducement and encouragement, but there's not the same sort of climate of teacher training shortages now - although this year recruitment has been less buoyant. If there are cuts, it will make our trainees more mindful that they really need to get a job at the end of the course."

A recent NUT survey of 900 student and newly qualified members found that 88 per cent were struggling to make ends meet, and half were finding it "very difficult or impossible".

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "There are bound to be reductions to bursaries if there is less money available for education. What the Government needs to ask itself is what the impact of this will be on priority subjects like maths and science, and teacher training applications overall."

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