The government is offering bursaries of £40,000 to former soldiers and armed forces veterans to attend university and retrain as teachers.
The new scheme will replace the controversial Troops to Teachers programme.
However, there’s no guarantee that the soldiers who undertake the new training scheme will enter the profession and officials say they won’t get their money back if the veterans decide not to become teachers.
The new scheme brings to an end the Troops to Teachers project which led to 106 former servicemen and women becoming qualified teachers in the five years it ran. It cost £10.7 million.
There are around 96 former soldiers training under the scheme currently and there will be no more trainees recruited this year.
Open to non-graduates who have left the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Airforce
However, the new bursary from the government will be open to non-graduates who have left the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Airforce in the last five years.
They will be able to claim the money if they agree to study a degree in a priority subject such as maths, computing, chemistry and biology and modern foreign languages.
The money can be spent on anything the recipient chooses and they will receive it during their second and third years of university study.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds says the armed forces veterans have a wealth of expertise and experience to be shared in the classroom.
He added that they will teach pupils ‘knowledge for success’ alongside crucial skills such as self-discipline and leadership.
The UK’s crisis in teacher recruitment
However, the government’s move has been criticised by one teachers’ union which says that the UK’s crisis in teacher recruitment would be better addressed by solving heavy workloads, low pay and the teacher’s work-life balance.
A spokesman for the NAHT said: “Teacher recruitment is a pipeline that leaks at both ends with not enough qualified new teachers entering the system. There are too many experienced teachers who leave early.
“New teacher recruitment schemes are welcome but unless money is spent addressing teacher retention then nothing will change for schools.”
The assistant general secretary of the National Education Union, Nansi Ellis, said the new scheme to help soldiers become teachers is not the solution for the problems being faced by schools.
She added: “There’s a massive crisis for teacher retention and recruitment with teachers telling us the main reason that so many leave is the unacceptably high workload that’s driven by often pointless and excessive accountability and assessment regime.”
She added that unless these issues are addressed by the government then teacher recruitment will worsen and teachers need to see a big change to their working lives to boost their work-life balance.
Attracting soldiers and the brightest and best into teaching
Mr Hinds says that the government is looking to explore opportunities for attracting soldiers and ‘the brightest and best into teaching’.
The government’s Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “Veterans are suited to a career in teaching because they have unrivalled life experience and leading skills including teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.”
The new scheme will be accepting applicants from September and all ex-servicemen and women will be allowed to apply for the money.