Bursaries of up to £1,500 are to be given to up to 11,000 trainers undertaking initial teacher education (ITE) to teach in further education.
Skills minister John Hayes, who originally set out his plans for the bursary at the Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Annual Conference in November, formally set out the funding available to those undertaking ITE on Thursday.
However, critics have already suggested that the money may not be enough in light of hefty tuition fees charged by some universities.
Lee Davies, president of Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), said: “This will barely scratch the itch if universities maintain the fees position they have been stating recently.
“So it’s just ‘hip’ from me – one cheer out of three – and I will wait and see the full economic picture.
“Certainly for CIPHE’s members considering a further education teaching career, a bursary of £1,000 will do little to ease their move into FE if they are still faced with the double-whammy of an almost inevitable salary drop and HE fees in the thousands of pounds.”
Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL), welcomed the news but also warned that caution remains over tuition fees.
She said: “It is excellent to see the government acknowledging that FE teaching and training is vital to the economy and society and is a high-level profession.
“IfL believes that the teaching and training profession should be seen as an attractive and accessible career progression route by those in industry who decide to give something back by teaching in their specialist field.
“We have long been calling for a bursary scheme for FE teacher trainees and our members see this as a priority issue, especially in the light of the higher education tuition fee increases this year.”
However, she added: “We remain concerned about the tuition fee increases and hope this announcement relieves, to some extent, concerns from higher education institutions about the financial viability of their FE ITT provision.
“We await further details about the availability and distribution of the new bursaries and how they will link with the existing ITT grant that IfL distributes on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.”
When making his announcement last year, Mr Hayes alluded to making comparable money available in FE to that of those undertaking initial teacher training (ITT) in schools – which is between £5,000 to £20,000.
However, for 2012-13 bursaries of £1,000 are available for 10,000 trainees to take either the Higher Education Institution (HEI)-accredited Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) or a Level 6 PGCE qualification.
Another 1,000 trainees can apply for bursaries of £1,500 if they are taking a HEI-accredited ITE course and intending to teach basic Maths and English.
Mr Hayes said: “It is a powerful demonstration of the government’s wholehearted commitment to the FE and skills sector that despite the current financial pressures and in challenging times, we are looking to secure the talents and skills of potential FE teachers.
“Recruiting the best talent is central to making the sector as good as it can be.
“Further Education is at the heart of economic revival; at the core of social renewal.”
Despite the significant different between the bursary in FE and that which is existing in schools, the IfL believes similarity should “remain the goal” and there should be “support for trainee teachers undertaking awarding body routes” to teaching qualifications.
Ms Fazaeli said: “There is clearly still more to be done and IfL will continue to make the case for equitable access routes in to teaching and training in our sector.”