An £80 million cash pot to run a “high quality” initial teacher training (ITT) programme is up for grabs, after the government issued an open tender for funds currently given to Teach First.
The successful bidder will be funded to support 4,200 highly qualified graduates and career changers to become teachers in schools with low attaining and disadvantaged pupils over four years.
Starting in April 2016, the contract runs until October 2020. There is also an option to expand the programme to 5,000 teachers.
The charity Teach First already receives about £33 million of annual government funding for a similar type of ITT, and is believed to have recruited about 1,800 teachers this year.
Teach First has been criticised for being expensive to fund compared with other training routes, such as those led by universities.
The award criteria for the new contract states: “The most economically advantageous tender in terms of the criteria stated in the specifications in the invitation to bid or to negotiate, or in the descriptive document.”
Bidders have to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prevents them from confirming if they have put in an application.
But Teach First has bid competitively for similar government-funded grants and won.
However, the open tender process could interest other groups such as teaching school alliances, universities, or academy chains such as Ark who have developed their own teaching training models.