First year of #163;5m Stem scheme woos five recruits

5th March 2010 at 00:00
Government-funded initiative to persuade industry experts to switch to teaching proves a turn-off

Just five people were recruited in the first year of a #163;5 million government-funded scheme to encourage science, technology and maths experts to become teachers, The TES can reveal.

Transition to Teaching had expected to attract 375 people a year to switch from careers in industry to the classroom.

But figures show that during its first year just five were trained. Three of them are now working in schools and one will start later this year. The status of the fifth is unknown.

A further 104 are either currently completing initial teacher training during the second full year of the scheme or have been accepted on courses.

The initiative - based on one of the same name in the US - is designed to target workers looking for a career change, taking an extended sabbatical or considering early retirement.

It began in England in May 2008 with #163;5 million funding from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) for three years.

Organisers admit it has failed to attract the expected numbers of recruits, even though 840 companies have now signed up.

Mark Wakefield, corporate affairs manager at IBM and a member of the scheme's steering committee, said: "Numbers are not as high as we hoped they would be, but you need time for impact and awareness to grow.

"The people who are interested are those who have been in their jobs for 10 to 20 years who are now looking to do something different and have a better worklife balance. Others think they missed their vocation the first time around."

At IBM, employees can retrain over one year by taking a sabbatical with a 25 per cent salary, two years part-time, or online with a 12-week block placement, with reduced or part-time working hours.

Those expressing an interest in Transition to Teaching are assigned an adviser who helps them decide whether to make the switch. Those who retrain are assisted in choosing a course and applying, as well as being provided with support when they find their first job.

TDA figures show that 460 people have been "actively supported" with advice.

A spokesman for Nord Anglia Education, which is running the initiative on behalf of the TDA, said similar numbers were expected to sign up this year.

A TDA spokeswoman said: "We are delighted with the success of the programme so far. Transition to Teaching has doubled the number of expected Stem applicants through this route to ITT in the last year."

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