Troops to Teachers marches on for another two years

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The Troops to Teachers programme is being extended to give more former service personnel who do not have degrees the chance to become teachers.

The programme is a route into teaching for those leaving the armed services who have gained qualifications or relevant experience such as teaching, instructing or mentoring through their jobs. It is a salaried, two-year training programme based in schools.

Last year, 95 former personnel joined the scheme. Today education secretary Nicky Morgan announced that the scheme will continue to recruit trainees in September 2015 and September 2016.

Ms Morgan said: “At a visit to a recent study week, I was able to see for myself the high calibre of the current trainees and the wealth of skills they can bring to teaching, including leadership, teamwork, resilience and the ability to inspire and engage.”

The initial phase of reserving teacher training places for soldiers began in 2012, when 50 places were made available on the now-scrapped Graduate Teacher Progamme. These places were for former military staff with degrees, who able to teach shortage subjects.

But by the end of that year, it was clear that one of the main barriers for people interested in becoming teachers by this route was a lack of a degree. So in 2013, the new Troops to Teachers undergraduate programme was launched, which gave people the chance to gain a degree during their training.

Although this attracted 1,232 initial applications from service-leavers, the government has revealed that only 41 applicants were accepted on to the first wave of the programme in January 2014, with a further 54 joining in September 2014.

The scheme cost £2 million, mostly in start-up costs. Nansi Ellis, deputy general secretary of the teaching union ATL, said there were serious concerns about the amount of money being spent on the project when there was a predicted shortfall in teacher recruitment.

“We’re sleepwalking into a teacher supply crisis,” she said last year. “Recruiting 41 people with £2 million is not solving the problem.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Only those who completed the rigorous selection process are accepted onto the course, and figures are in line with what we expected at this stage.

“We have already had over 100 expressions of interest since we announced we were extending the scheme last October. It is just one of a number of employment-based routes into teaching.”

Source: Times Educational Suppliment

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