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Free NPQ scheme to be scaled back

The government will confirm today that free national professional qualifications (NPQ) for all schools will be replaced with a less generous scheme that could train around 75 per cent fewer staff, Schools Week understands.

As part of its Covid recovery plan, DfE offered £184m for schools to do NPQs for free. The government said it would provide 150,000 qualifications for the sector over three years. It is understood around 100,000 have been completed.

But that cash will end this year. Instead a new programme – backed by less cash – will be announced. 

Under the new scheme, Schools Week understands teachers and leaders in the top half of schools with the most youngsters on pupil premium will be eligible from this autumn for funded NPQs across the full suite of qualifications. This is above the pre-Covid threshold of 30 per cent of schools that could access funding.

We also understand the NPQs for heads, SENCOs and leading primary maths will be available for free to all schools.

However the scheme is just for the autumn cohort, and will be capped at 10,000 places – which is believed to be a quarter of the number of NPQs completed this year.

Like the tutoring funding, government said the NPQ cash would end this year. 

It is understood DfE sees the new funding as a better offer for schools than before Covid.

But many in the sector will see it as a funding cut. It comes as the DfE scrabbles to make cuts to fund its contribution to last year’s teacher pay settlement. 

But the news comes just days after the NFER warned teacher retention looks set to worsen, with small improvements in recruitment still meaning far fewer recruits that needed.

Three lead NPQ have also achieved positive Ofsted reports this week.

The National Institute of Teaching and Teacher Development Trust were both graded ‘outstanding’. 

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