On-the-job teacher training at risk as funding cuts leave schools in the lurch

28th May 2010 at 01:00
Shortfall means providers may be forced to ditch courses for graduates

Cash-strapped schools could be forced to stop running courses for trainee teachers after it was announced costs will rise significantly, experts have warned.

The money given to schools administering the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) - completed by some 3,200 trainees every year - will be cut by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

Universities also face a tougher deal and will be penalised if they over-recruit trainees - a common practice used to compensate for students who drop out of courses.

Money to cover the salaries of GTP trainees will be reduced from September, leaving schools to make up the shortfall. They will also lose "premiums" of #163;2,000 for every maths and modern languages trainee they take on.

"It is inevitable when the costs start to be more than in previous years that some schools may find themselves unable to run the GTP," said Martin Thompson, chair of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers.

He said course leaders were angry about the lack of notice of the cuts. "There was very little warning given - this makes the cuts much more difficult to manage," Mr Thompson said.

TDA bosses were only told in the first week of April how much money they would have to spend on training. The reductions, agreed by the previous government, are separate to other cuts announced this week, which will result in the TDA losing #163;30 million from its marketing and recruitment budget.

Jane Harman, deputy head of Bourton Meadow School in Buckingham, said the changes would increase the cost of running the GTP in her school by 30 per cent.

Mrs Harman and her staff train the majority of primary teachers in the area. She has had to write to her six partner schools to ask whether they want to continue with the programme.

"This leaves schools like us out of pocket - it will make a real difference to school budgets," she said. "Luckily, there was significant goodwill in this area, so we will continue."

Trainees on the GTP get paid on the unqualified teacher scale, which in inner-London starts at #163;19,445 per annum. Under the new funding arrangements, schools will have to cover 13 per cent of their pay.

Meanwhile, universities have also voiced concerns about the number of trainee teachers they will be able to recruit this year and the prospect of being penalised if they over-recruit.

Jeremy Coninx, director of funding at the TDA, told training providers in a letter that the changes were being made because of the "tight financial settlement" given to them. "We appreciate that some of the changes will have significant implications for some providers," he wrote.

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "Less flexibility for over-recruiting and more penalties will be very difficult for providers. They over-recruit because there are always students who drop out."

Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of London University's Institute of Education, said: "I wouldn't be surprised at all if the new Government decided to spend less money on training teachers.

"The country is facing severe challenges and we can't be confident anything is sacred."

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