Bankers fail to make grade for teaching

City financiers in search of new career unsuitable for fast-track training scheme
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Bankers and high-flying City financiers seeking a refuge from the recession in teaching are being turned away from a scheme aimed at parachuting them into the classroom.

The scheme, in which students would qualify to teach in only six months, was announced by Gordon Brown at the start of the recession.

He said it would make "a huge difference to the profession" and solve two problems – City redundancies and teacher shortages – at a stroke.

However, the first course to be set up under the scheme – at London University's prestigious Institute of Education (IoE) – is in danger of having places on the new course unfilled when it starts in September.

Staff say those applying for a career switch would not be ready to start teaching after just six months of training. Instead, they are recommending prospective students apply for more traditional routes into teaching including the Graduate Teacher Programme, which provides on-the-job training as part of the year-long course.

Professor Dylan Wiliam, the deputy director of the IoE, said: "The course has attracted a lot of interest so far but we feel very few will reach qualified teacher status in six months – they won't reach the standard in that time.

"If they can't reach this hurdle to entry we are directing them to longer courses," he said. "We want to take 40 students but if we can't get 40 of the best people we will leave empty places." Professor Wiliam told the Times Educational Supplement: So far we have only been accepting those with excellent personality and communication skills."

The plan provoked outrage from teachers' unions when it was first announced. They claimed ex-banking staff would not be ready to teach in the classroom after the 10 days of university-based induction they would be given under the scheme. On the Graduate Teacher Programme, students receive a month's induction. The scheme is being treated as a pilot by ministers and its effectiveness will be measured by the Training and Development Agency, the government body responsible for teacher recruitment.

But its failure to attract candidates is a major embarrassment for Mr Brown who calculated it would be seen as as an innovative way of tackling the problems of the recession.

John Bangs, the head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said those recruited under the scheme would create an extra burden for their colleagues – who would have to shepherd them through their early days in the classroom.

Meanwhile, the Government announced plans to cut the teaching grants given to universities next year by £65m. Every university in England will see its grant cut by 1.36 per cent.

Education unions have warned the cut will lead to even more job losses and a lower standard of education.