Teacher training top-up courses slashed as DfE cuts costs

Funding to provide subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses cut to just five subjects from next month

Funding to provide subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses cut to just five subjects from next month

21 Mar 2024, 14:23

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Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses will only be available in five subjects with the “greatest sufficiency challenges” from next month after the government cut funding.

In an email sent to providers, seen by Schools Week, the Department for Education announced that programmes will only be funded for maths, physics, chemistry, computing and modern foreign languages.

Existing commitments for the four axed subjects – primary maths, D&T, English, biology and RE will be “honoured for those candidates expecting to start” programmes up to and including April 10.

However providers are now no longer able to recruit for those subjects.

SKEs are designed to top up teacher trainees’ subject knowledge. They can be taken prior to or alongside initial teacher training, and can last anywhere between a fortnight and nine months.

A Government contract document describes them as a “key part of the department’s teacher supply strategy and supports recruitment to shortage subjects”.

‘Great teachers could be lost’

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, argued the decision “does not make much sense” as it comes “at a time when recruitment targets in almost all secondary subjects are being missed”.

“Potentially great teachers will probably be lost as a result.

“The timing of the announcement, just a couple of weeks before the changes come into effect and as we enter the Easter holiday period, also leaves a lot to be desired.” 

Government bankrolled the programmes as part of a £122 million, four-year scheme in 2021.

In this morning’s letter, providers – which include universities, schools and trusts – were told to ignore their 2022-23 indicative funding allocations.

They will instead be sent revised allocations for the rest of the academic year by the middle of next month. The changes apply to all SKE providers, the DfE added.

They were also told not to start any new candidates on the axed courses “as we will not be able to accept and pay your claim”.

The cut comes as the government wields the axe to cover this year’s teacher pay rise. Funding for national professional qualifications has been scaled back and a governor recruitment scheme scrapped.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We are continuing to offer Subject Knowledge Enhancement funding in subjects with the biggest sufficiency challenges including mathematics, physics, chemistry, computing, and languages, alongside trainee bursaries and scholarship for these subjects.”

The department has not confirmed how much funding has reduced by.

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