Spending watchdog calls on DfE to justify £1 billion spent on teacher training bursaries

Teacher trainees can get up to £30,000 during a one-year course – and the DfE needs to make sure they're worth it, says the National Audit Office

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The public spending watchdog has renewed its criticism of the government for spending £1 billion on bursaries for teacher training without knowing whether they are effective.

Mark Parrett, audit manager at the National Audit Office, told MPs on the Commons education committee this morning that while there was some evidence that the money being spent on bursaries attracted graduates into teacher training, no evaluation has been made of whether those trainees went into teaching jobs, or how well they performed as teachers.

He said: “The department have a general understanding of the impact of bursaries but it needs to do a lot more. By the end of 2016-17, they will have spent almost £1bn on bursaries, so we would expect a greater degree of evaluation around whether that is working.”

New teachers can be offered up to £30,000 a year to train, depending on subject and degree class. 

The figures in the National Audit Office’s Training New Teachers report, published in February, show that the amount spent on bursaries was £620 million in the five years to 2014-15 and a further £167m was planned for each year in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

It said then that it wanted the Department for Education to do more to show how it was improving recruitment and retention of new teachers and at what cost.

“What we said to the department is, you need to be evaluating the various initiatives put in place to attact new teachers, but also to set these against relative cost-effectiveness of measures to retain teachers as well – and that hasn’t been done,” Mr Parrett told the committee.


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