Government plans to turn city workers into teachers in six months have failed to "live up to the hype" a union leader said today, as it was revealed that just 13 people have signed up.
Less than half of places on the first training course, which is due to begin tomorrow, have been filled, according to figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).
The initiative, announced by the Prime Minister in a blaze of publicity in March, was an attempt to entice high performers into the classroom.
But it proved controversial from the start, with teaching unions dismissing it as "ill thought out".
The TDA's figures show that the Institute of Education (IoE) in London, which is running the first pilot course, have made offers to 18 applicants.
Some 13 have accepted, and another one has not yet responded.
There are 40 places available on the course, which will train candidates in maths, information and communication technology (ICT) and science, all subjects in which there are teacher shortages.
The IoE and the TDA said that there had been a "rigorous selection process" so that only those likely to complete the training were offered a place.
It was revealed last month that the IoE sent application forms to 150 people and received around 90 back.
But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teacher (NUT) said: "This hasn't lived up to the hype."
She added: "This is 13 people who will be wholly inadequately trained to go into classrooms to work.
"With all the material about cover supervisors and teach assistants that has appeared recently, what we are saying is that using people that are not properly qualified is not doing the best by children.
"What we need in the classroom is fully qualified teachers."
Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said the number was "pathetically small" adding it "shows that this was a scheme designed to grab headlines, not to improve our schools."
"There is a real problem with teacher shortages in key subjects, but the Government's response has been to turn to cheap gimmicks," he said.
Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: "The Government launched this scheme with great fanfare but as with so many of their promises they haven't actually delivered.
"Nothing is more important to a child's education than the quality of the teachers they have, which is why we want to get more highly qualified professionals in the classroom."
A TDA spokewoman said the IoE will consider more applications to start a course in January.
She said: "This route is for a small group of highly qualified and skilled candidates, who are selected through a tougher set of criteria than for the existing Graduate Teacher Programme.
"We are testing this route into teaching and evaluating it to find out if it could be a worthwhile addition to existing routes into teaching."
At the time of the announcement, then schools minister Jim Knight said: "There are thousands of highly talented individuals in this country who are considering their next move, who want to do something challenging, rewarding, that is highly respected and where good people have great prospects.
"My message to them is to see what they can offer teaching and what teaching can offer them."
The scheme formed part of a new public service reform paper published by Gordon Brown, who said he thought it would make a "huge difference" to the teaching profession.
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The ambitious six-month Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) scheme must be rigorous and robust before it is rolled out on a larger scale - so it is absolutely right to take the time in setting up an effective pilot.
"We are fully evaluating the results to ensure the scheme is a high quality, effective way of bringing expertise and experience from the wider world of work into the classroom."Reuse content