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pound;17,000 to tempt schools into on-the-job training

MINISTERS' last attempt to persuade schools to train teachers on the job may have foundered but they are so confident that their new proposals will find favour they are expanding the scheme three-fold.

Some 1,500 places will be available on the revamped graduate employment programme, aimed at people over the age of 24. Only 500 people are currently being trained in this way.

The key difference is the offer of pound;17,000 to cover salary and training costs. Instead of schools hiring an untried, untested apprentice to fill an existing vacancy, the trainee can be surplus to staff.

But it still depends on schools' willingness to take part. There is much interest from would-be teachers who cannot afford to take traditional training courses.

The "marriage bureau" approach has been dropped as TimePlan, a teacher employment agency, managed to fill only 100 out of 600 places by matching would-be teachers to schools. But new regional recruitment managers could be called in to fill a simiar role.

The Department for Education and Employment wants to develop an informal network of partnerships of schools, training providers, local authorities and others. Its consultation paper, issued last week, invites bids for "pump-priming" grants.

It also plans to pilot "school-teacher experience and preparation" schemes (STEPS) to give trainees a taste of classroom life, partly so that schools can be sure that they have had some preparation for the job. Candidates could be paid for this experience from a central fund.

Employment-based routes would also be covered by Office for Standards in Education inspections - something that teacher training chiefs have urged. Other suggestions include scrapping the lower age limit and allowing programmes to run longer than the current maximum of one year.

The consultation document 'Expanding Employment-based Routes into Teaching' is available from DFEE

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