Education minister Huw Lewis has announced new financial incentives for top post-graduate students who train to teach maths, physics and chemistry in Wales as part of series of policies to drive up standards.
Eligible post-graduate trainee teachers with a first-class degree will receive the highest funding in 2014/15, with progressively lower amounts for those with a 2:1 or 2:2. Up to £15,000 will be available for those studying Welsh, modern foreign languages and ICT. For those with a first-class degree studying all other secondary post-graduate and primary studies teacher training courses, a £3,000 incentive will be available.
The policy is in line with a system of bursaries in England. However, the Welsh government is currently only offering these windfall incentives for the next academic year and it is yet to announce whether the scheme will continue.
It has led some critics to question whether the government is relying on too many quick fixes rather than a sustained plan for the future.
Alongside attracting talented new recruits, the government says CPD is “vital for delivering improvement in education”.
Part of this is the Master In Education Practice (MEP) programme which is offered to NQTs alongside their induction and early professional development. Now in its second year, just under 1,000 NQTs are involved in the Welsh government’s programme.
In a speech to new MEP recruits, Mr Lewis said that if Wales was to deliver improvements in education it needed strong, effective and long-term CPD for its teachers.
He added: “There is excellent practice already out there in our schools. We need to harness this and work together so that we can continue to improve. It’s my belief that no school can call itself good unless it has effective provision for the professional development of its staff.”
Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: “It has been long recognised that we need to attract the very best graduates into teaching.
“The high-performing nations such as Finland and Korea show the benefits of that policy. But once graduates are attracted into teaching they need the best information too, and that is why the Welsh government’s Masters in Education Practice is to be welcomed as well.”
He added: “What Wales needs, as well as this money to attract the best graduates, is a coherent narrative about what we as a nation believe education is all about. That narrative is developing but the Welsh government needs to do far more to articulate a vision. That will be as important as any financial incentives for young, enthusiastic graduates.”