A scheme designed to help promising teachers gain leadership posts has been stripped of some of its most valuable aspects and could get worse, according to former participants and the chair of an influential education watchdog.
Barry Sheerman MP, chair of the new Commons children, schools and families select committee, raised his concerns in Parliament this week, asking Jim Knight, schools minister, why the Government was cutting back the Fast Track teaching programme and "taking the most expensive residential elements out".
The National College for School Leadership, which oversees the scheme, has said the format will change in August, sparking fears from Mr Sheerman that it will be for the worse. He told The TES: "The tender documents cut out what most of the Fast Track people who have gone through the scheme think are the very best bits."
Ed Nonis says that this has already started to happen. He began the programme when it was launched in 2001 and only left in September, having been appointed deputy head of Surrey Square Junior School in south London.
"The quality of what is being provided and the specialist skills you used to learn - such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) - have been taken away," he said.
He added that the residential course had been key to the scheme's original success because it allowed teachers to immerse themselves in new ideas and build contacts.
Last month, The TES reported that other teachers on the scheme had criticised it for lacking support and offering "banal" advice.
Insiders say that when the NCSL took over the programme in September 2006, it was with a "significantly reduced budget".
This week Di Morton, the college's operational director, said the residential and NLP elements were still available to teachers on the first three years of the scheme and that it was attracting increasing numbers.