Students' anger over grant rules

March 2, 2001

Angry trainee teachers have claimed that government funding promises are not all that they appear to be.

A recent campaign advertised grants of up to £7,500 for those training to teach secondary subjects where there is a shortage of staff. But many students were furious when the amounts they received fell far short of that sum.

Diana Bentley, director of education at Sheffield Hallam University, said:

"Our students feel aggrieved that they have been misled."

She said the information provided in the Department for Education and Employment's recruitment material did not spell out the rules. "It says very clearly that you might not get the full allocation, but it does not say why not - for example, if you have savings or your partner is working."

She explained that the money was in effect a hardship fund provided by the government and administered through universities.

Professor Bentley said the problems had left students "irritated, angry and brassed off" and she advocated a shift to a simpler scheme.

Students at the University of Huddersfield experienced similar problems, according to Jenny Haigh, the student union's student services manager. "Some of them were unaware that the money was means-tested."

Flora Wilson, student union president at the Institute of Education, said:

"I think the figures that the government talks about can be misleading and confusing for students."

A Teacher Training Agency spokesman said: "All the advertising material clearly says that it (the scheme) is based on need. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the maximum amounts are paid."

• Institute of Education students are campaigning for a London weighting to be added to the £6,000 training salary for graduate trainee teachers.

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