A wiser choice for the older trainee

1st June 2001 at 01:00
Mature applicants who simply cannot afford to do a PGCE should look at on-the-job training schemes that will pay them a salary. Jill Parkin reports

If you would like to teach but cannot afford to train, if the golden hellos are not golden enough, there is a scheme that could change your life. The Graduate Teacher Programme, which pays a salary while you train on the job, is being expanded in September with places for 2,250 lucky trainees.

The scheme will pay you around pound;12,000 and gives you qualified teacher status. But don't get too carried away - places are not the easiest to come across or the easiest to fill.

Trainees are recruited directly by a school, which is responsible for monitoring and mentoring them. Schools get up to pound;13,000 per place to cover salary costs and up to pound;4,000 to cover training costs. Final assessment for qualified teacher status is done by the Teacher Training Agency.

The first thing you need to do is find the job. It may be advertised as a trainee post and is most likely to be in a priority recruitment area, such as London, or for a shortage subject.

Another way into the scheme is to persuade the school where you would like to teach to bid for GTP funding.

The scheme is very much for older, committed trainees.

David Grieve, who is now on the programme at St Peter's school in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, spent 16 years in the RAF specialising in French and German. When he retired he wanted to teach, but as a family man wasn't sure training was financially possible.

David, 46, says: "I couldn't do a post-graduate certificate course, basically because I couldn't afford to. I did a teaching English as a foreign language course and then saw an advert for the GTP in Cambridgeshire. The local education authority advisory service was interviewing would-be teachers. I joined in January and my school has asked me if I will consider a full-time post when I've qualified. The staff are supportive and I have an excellent mentor.

"I teach Tuesday to Friday and spend Monday training at the professional dvelopment centre. I started off observing my colleagues in the French and German department and now they observe me.

"Being a learner after so many years spent training other servicemen was strange at first but I quickly got used to it.

"I would recommend the GTP to mature entrants.

"I think that being older and having RAF experience makes me more tolerant of children."

You need to be aged at least 24, have a first degree and GCSE grade C or above in maths and English.

As well as the trainees, schools need to be up to scratch and prove they can give good training. Schools in special measures are not eligible.

Schools compete in termly bidding rounds, whose priorities vary according to recruitment needs. Some programme places are also ring-fenced to make teaching more representative of society, mainly to get more men into primary teaching and more ethnic-minority and more disabled teachers.

The deadlines for applications from schools are May 25 (ie last Friday) for September 2001 starts, October 26 for January 2002 and February 8 for April 2002. Applications are turned round quickly - within 20 days of the deadline.

The training usually runs for a year, though this may be reduced if you have experience teaching abroad or teaching in the independent sector. The minimum is three months.

Once you have found a post, the school will develop a training plan for you. At the end of your training you face an independent assessment as well as tests in literacy, numeracy and information technology.

Some providers offer flexibility based on training by modules. This lets you fit training in around existing work; get credit for experience, such as teaching without qualified teacher status in the independent sector; switch from full-time to part-time study; choose distance learning; or switch to a faster, more intensive training programme.

You can find out more about the Graduate Teacher Programme from the Teacher Information Line on 0845 6000 991 and the Teacher Training Agency website: www.teach-tta.gov.uk

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