Trainee primary teachers will have to gain a first-class degree if they are to receive any kind of bursary from next year, according to new government rules.
Only graduates with top honours will be lured with a £3,000 financial incentive to become a primary teacher from 2017, the Department for Education has said.
Previously, anyone interested in a career as a primary teacher with at least a 2:1 would be handed a £3,000 “golden hello” to train.
And in further cutbacks, graduates with a third-class degree in shortage subjects, such as physics and secondary maths, will no longer be eligible for a bursary. This year, they received a £9,000 incentive to train as teachers.
The news comes after the public spending watchdog criticised the government for spending £1 billion on bursaries for teacher training without knowing whether they were effective.
But while trainee primary teachers and graduates with a third will lose out, geography trainees with firsts who successfully apply for a "scholarship" package will be offered £27,500, an increase of £12,500 from this year.
The increase places geography on a par with other shortage subjects such as secondary maths, computing and chemistry.
The additional scholarship money for shortage subjects has not been universlly welcomed however.
Trainee physics teachers with a first-class degree will continue to attract a £30,000 bursary, whereas incentives for trainee biology teachers with top honours have been cut by £5,000.
Back in June, Mark Parrett, audit manager at the National Audit Office, told MPs on the Commons Education Select Committee that the DfE was not evaluating whether trainees who received bursaries went into teaching jobs, or how well they performed as teachers.
“The department has a general understanding of the impact of bursaries but it needs to do a lot more," he said. "By the end of 2016-17, they will have spent almost £1 billion on bursaries, so we would expect a greater degree of evaluation around whether that is working.”
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