Exclusive: More than £500K to bring 49 teachers back to the profession

19th May 2017 at 05:01
returning teachers 49 in class
The failure of a scheme that encourages former teachers to return to the classroom is being partly blamed on the high number of requests for flexible hours

A government recruitment scheme aimed at persuading more than 1,000 people back into teaching resulted in just 49 returning to the classroom, official figures reveal.

The failure of the Department for Education’s Supporting Returning Teachers pilot scheme has been blamed at least partly on requests for flexible hours.

The DfE figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, reveal that 62 schools took part in the pilot, which ran from September 2015 to the autumn term of 2016, and offered 1,062 tailored training places.

But just 426 teachers were recruited to the various training schemes and, by the November 2016 cut-off point, only 49 of them were in employment.

The DfE also revealed that it paid out £584,775 in grant funding for the scheme.

By November, it had cost the taxpayer nearly £12,000 for every teacher who was back working in the classroom.

A new pilot scheme – the Returners Engagement Programme – has since been set up that will only pay out the bulk of the money for training once returners have been employed by schools.

More than 1,200 former secondary maths, physics and MFL teachers have applied to the new pilot, designed to nudge schools into offering part-time work.

'A brave attempt to sort out the problems'

Derek Boyle, teacher training coordinator at the Bromley Schools Collegiate Scitt (school-centred initial teacher training scheme), has participated in, and encountered problems with, both pilots.

He said it was difficult for schools to employ teachers from the first pilot because of the number of requests for flexible working.

Commenting on the Returners Engagement Programme pilot, Mr Boyle said that many would-be returners needed significant training before schools would employ them, and so could not take part.

“It’s a brave attempt to sort out the problems of getting returners back into the classroom,” he said. “But there does need to be a national strategy about how to encourage people back into the profession.

*Some schools and trainees in the Supporting Returning Teachers scheme used a programme run by Tes Institute.

This is an edited version of an article appearing in the 19 May edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click hereTo download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. 

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