Bursary scheme is a step forward – but more must be done on teacher recruitment and retention, say industry leaders
More than 600 further education teacher trainees have received a bursary worth up to £26,000 in the 2020-21 academic year, Tes can reveal.
The government’s FE Initial Teacher Education (ITE) bursaries were awarded from a pot of £11 million, varied from £12,000 to £26,000 and were awarded for those teaching shortage subjects like maths, sciences, engineering, manufacturing, computing and English.
Funding was also made available for those training to teach learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The bursaries were one part of a £24 million package to train FE staff announced last February.
The package also included grants for FE providers for trainees who are training in-service, £10 million to expand the government’s Taking Teaching Further programme, and £3 million for high-quality mentor training programmes, designed and delivered by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).
And in last week’s Skills for Jobs White Paper, the government set out its proposals to support outstanding teaching in FE. Suggestions included a new national recruitment campaign, improved CPD and facilitating a strong relationship between industry and providers.
‘A real recruitment and retention issue in FE’
Kirsti Lord, Association of Colleges’ deputy chief executive, said that this is “a real recruitment and retention issue in further education with some subjects facing bigger gaps than others”.
“Financial incentives such as training bursaries and investment in initial teacher training and remission for those starting out in FE are a good step, but there is still much more to do to ensure talented people think of a career in FE as an option for them,” she said. “Long-term funding challenges have meant colleges are unable to match the pay potential lecturers would earn by staying in industry, or by choosing to teach in schools.
“The White Paper’s ambitions on teacher recruitment are definitely a step in the right direction. The challenge will be simplifying the current recruitment incentives into an accessible system that incentivises and supports training of strong staff. To achieve it, the strategy must be able to attract a new, diverse and inspired generation – a plan that offers continuous CPD, provides strong links back to industry and, crucially, is backed up by long-term funding that means teaching in FE is a viable career for prospective recruits.”
Howard Pilott, national head of initial teacher education at the Education and Training Foundation, said: “The recent FE White Paper stressed the importance of the people who lead and teach in the FE and training sector and recruiting more high-calibre individuals into it. The ETF welcomes that focus.
“While the acknowledged shortage of teachers in the sector – particularly in some subjects – means there is still more to do, that so many individuals have applied to train to teach the priority subjects for which these bursaries are available is positive news.
“It is vital for the success of the sector and its learners that the focus on recruiting and retaining new teaching talent continues to be a priority.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our financial incentives programmes are designed to give the FE sector the support they need to recruit and retain the best teachers possible. We are delighted that we were able to support over 600 more talented individuals to become FE teachers during the current academic year in key subject areas including mathematics, engineering and special needs and disability.
“Our Skills for Jobs White Paper makes clear we will continue the bursaries and grants programme for a further year in 2021-22. We are also offering a new mentor training programme to ensure that a cadre of high-quality mentors are in place to support new teachers entering the sector.”