A £2 million scheme to put former members of the armed forces in the classroom has signed up just 41 people for its first cohort.
The Troops to Teachers programme provides a fast-track route into schools for ex-service personnel and has been championed by Michael Gove, who said their discipline and courage made them ideal candidates for teaching.
The scheme had been expected to train 180 people in its first two years, but today it emerged just 41 began their training in January, with another 61 starting in September.
Nansi Ellis, deputy general secretary of the teaching union ATL, said there were serious concerns about the amount of money being spent on the project when there was a predicted shortfall in teacher recruitment.
“We’re sleepwalking into a teacher supply crisis,” she said. “So the fact that they’re throwing £2 million at Michael Gove’s pet project is extremely worrying. Recruiting 41 people with £2 million is not solving the problem.”
She said military experience alone was no guarantee of success in the classroom and military discipline did not necessarily translate into an ability to manage classroom behaviour.
But a Department for Education spokesman said recruitment had been “within expectations”. The bulk of the £2 million spent so far covered initial start-up costs and it was unfair to divide that figure by the 41 people recruited so far, he added.
He said there was no target for recruitment, but in 2012 the department estimated that 180 people would take part in the two-year programme.
“We expect the Troops to Teachers programme to go from strength-to-strength and train exceptional service leavers for many years,” he said. “Ex-service personnel have invaluable skills and experiences to bring in to teaching. They know how to earn respect, motivate and communicate.”
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