Teach First offers £2k cost-of-living payment to trainees

Grant will be paid to 150 recruits who need to relocate under a pilot starting in September

Grant will be paid to 150 recruits who need to relocate under a pilot starting in September

28 Jun 2023, 15:20

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Teach First will give some trainees who need to relocate a one-off grant of £2,000 to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

Under a pilot scheme starting in September, the charity hopes to “make it financially possible” for its high-achieving graduates to undertake initial teacher training (ITT).

The move followed a “huge influx” in requests for trainees from schools, the charity said.

Those who need to relocate to take up a place in the autumn institute will be offered a one-off grant of £2,000.

Trainees who commute, rather than relocate, will be eligible for a grant of £1,000 if it costs them more than £150 a month to get to their school.

But the scheme will only cover 150 people this year.

Last year Teach First had 1,394 recruits – its lowest number in four years.

Teach First trainees are salaried. Secondary recruits starting this September will earn £21,559 in their first year, and those teaching primary will earn £19,340.

This will then rise to a minimum of £28,000 in their second year of training.

Those who are ineligible will be able to access a hardship grant in “exceptional circumstances”.

Move comes as DfE set to face another dismal year for ITT

Russell Hobby, Teach First’s CEO, said many requests for trainee teachers had come from “isolated” parts of the country.

“Through this small pilot scheme, we want to help address the financial barriers graduates are facing to training as teachers in schools in low-income areas, enabling them to start the Training programme with us and relocate or commute to the schools that need them most,” he added.

To qualify for the relocation grant, trainees will need to provide evidence of a new address they moved to between gaining a place at a school and starting work there.

The Department for Education (DfE) is set to fall well short of its target for secondary teacher trainees this year, according to analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

Last year, the target was missed by 41 per cent, while fewer primary teachers than needed were also recruited.

Teach First missed its own target to attract high-flying graduates into teaching by a fifth.

A National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) survey this spring found 77 per cent of providers said applications for ITT were down compared to last year.

When asked why, 22 per cent of the 70 respondents said because of the cost-of-living crisis.

DfE urged to provide financial support for other trainees

NASBTT’s executive director, Emma Hollis, said it is “wonderful to see that Teach First are able to offer this financial support to a small number of applicants”.

She said they “would urge the government to put something in place that allows all who are considering entering the teaching profession to take up a place without facing significant final hardship”.

In its evidence to the Education Committee’s teacher recruitment and retention inquiry, the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) advised the DfE to allocate funding to providers to operate hardship funds for trainees.

This could come from unspent cash allocated for bursaries for shortage subjects, it said.

In its own evidence to the inquiry, National Institute of Teaching (NIOT) also warned that schools it works with were seeing “significant changes” in the “demographics and location” of those applying to ITT due to the cost of living.

It meant those who received financial support from their family were more likely to apply, while a “smaller pool of graduates” were available in coastal and rural areas, and areas not “served well” by universities.

The DfE was contacted for comment.

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