Teachers in Wales missed out on pound;600,000 of training cash in the last financial year following an announcement that a key fund was to close, TES Cymru can reveal.
The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) was forced to hand back the unclaimed continuing professional development (CPD) money to the Assembly government.
Interest in the fund - the only one of its kind in Wales that allows applications from individual teachers - dried up after the Assembly announced last October that the scheme would end in April this year.
Applications dropped from a monthly average of 533 before the announcement to 179 afterwards.
The GTCW was confident that it would allocate the entire amount before the end of the 200910 financial year, and its chief executive, Gary Brace, had said: "The last thing we want is to hand money back because it has not been claimed by teachers."
But at a GTCW council meeting last week, Hayden Llewellyn, its deputy chief executive, said: "Application numbers fell through the floor and unfortunately we had to return the rest of cash to the Assembly."
This is the latest blow to CPD training in Wales, following an announcement earlier this year that money available through the Better Schools Fund is to be cut by a third - more than pound;12 million - next year.
GTCW members said they were "disappointed" and heads and teachers reacted angrily, particularly as a new rule imposed last year excluded many from applying for funding.
The rule, which was supposed to make the system fairer, only allowed applications from those who had not received grants in the previous two consecutive years.
John Healy, head of Our Lady and St Michael's Primary School in Abergavenny, was awarded bursaries of pound;650 in 2007 and 2008 but was turned down last year. "I'm bitterly disappointed I missed out," he said. "Many teachers could have put that money to good use. The criteria should have been broadened."
Gareth Jones, secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, said: "I hope the cash finds its way back to the classroom."
Concerns that money could be missed out on were first revealed in TES Cymru last year. But the Assembly government refused to change the criteria for applications.
Over nine years, the pound;3 million annual CPD programme funded more than 30,000 training opportunities at a cost of pound;27 million. Funding ranged from pound;650 for shorter training to pound;5,000 for sabbaticals.
But the Assembly decided to scrap it because of concerns over bureaucracy and that spending was not always in line with its priorities. It is now carrying out a review of CPD.
Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, said there was a drop in applications after the announcement despite writing to all local authorities. "This is particularly frustrating as now there is very little money available for CPD," he said.