The government has been forced to scrap its National Teaching Service, which was to be a flagship training service for elite teachers to be placed in struggling schools in the north west of England.

It comes as another blow to teacher recruitment in the North, as a study published this week showed that teaching staff levels were suffering chronic shortages in the region.

Figures seen exclusively by Schools Week, who reported the story, showed that only 24 teachers had accepted jobs under the scheme by late November this year. The original deadline for sign ups was the last week in August, but was extended as the scheme had attracted just 14 recruits by that time.

The cancellation comes after the Department for Education declined to reveal teacher recruitment figures for the scheme, which was launched in 2015, had been a flagship project of the former education secretary, Nicky Morgan.

At the time Ms Morgan was education secretary, leaked emails between government ministers and top civil servants revealed that she wanted to be upfront about the programme’s lack of success, but the DfE had dragged their feet over the issue.

Commenting to Schools Week earlier this month, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Leaders, said:

“The NTS was heralded as the big initiative that was going to tackle the teaching shortage in deprived areas.

“It’s a worthwhile idea, but we need to know what’s going on and whether taxpayers’ money has resulted in a launchable scheme.”

Ministers had been hoping to hire 1,500 teachers for the NTS scheme. The NTS had offered up to £10,000 for teachers or middle leaders with at least three years’ experience to relocate to struggling schools and was due to launch a pilot cohort in September 2016 which was then pushed back to January 2017.

Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, told Schools Week that the scheme had always been a “sticking plaster” for teacher recruitment problems, and was “under-resourced and not attractive to teachers”. She said:

“It was meant to be Nicky Morgan’s major initiative to tackle teacher shortages, but it has palpably failed.”