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Welsh schools’ eligibility for general mentor grant funding

This policy design history details why the general mentor grant should not be paid to Welsh placement schools. These schools host trainee teachers undertaking initial teacher training (ITT) courses with an English provider that leads to qualified teacher status (QTS).

Total number of Welsh schools involved in placements

Data taken from Register trainee teachers (Register) indicates that for the academic year 2022 to 2023, there were 15,502 placement schools. Of these, only 109 were located in Wales, representing less than one per cent of all placement schools.

What percentage of Welsh schools are local authority maintained?

In the academic year 2022 to 2023, there were 1,463 local authority maintained schools in Wales, representing the vast majority of schools in Wales. Colleagues in the Welsh government have confirmed that there are no Grammars or Academies/free schools in Wales.

Department for Education (DfE) precedent

Initial teacher training is devolved, and Welsh providers of ITT do not use the Becoming a Teacher services. Their courses are hosted via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

ITT finance colleagues are unaware of any precedent for providing funding to Welsh schools, as our funding is only for trainee teachers on courses delivered by accredited providers in England.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) precedent

The ESFA will pay the general mentor grant. The ESFA do not typically pay Welsh schools as they do not have an agreement to pay local authority maintained schools as the funding flows through the local authority. There are some exceptions were funding follows English pupils into Wales when they attend post-16 and special schools.

ESFA position

It is possible to pay non-local-authority schools directly, for instance, if they are private independent special schools, as long as they provide their bank details and become vendors.

DfE devolved policy position

Devolved policy colleagues believe an agreement could be reached to pay Welsh local authorities. However, this would need to be discussed with the Welsh government first, and the Welsh government is not guaranteed to agree to this.

When deciding whether to pay Welsh schools, the Department and Welsh government must assess whether this policy negatively impacts Welsh citizens or organisations. The argument could be made that by paying Welsh schools to participate in ITT with English providers, we would be incentivising their participation at an opportunity cost to participation with Welsh ITT providers.

James Noble Rogers indicated that the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) Welsh member institutions do not always welcome English providers using their schools for placements. Therefore, they especially may not welcome their schools being incentivised to do so.

In summary, the legal position is that the Education Act in which the grant is administered may not be sufficient to pay Welsh local authorities and that an alternative statutory instrument may be required. There is a legal consensus that one could be used, but it would require:

  • agreement from the Welsh government
  • agreement from Treasury (HMT)
  • consideration of the Barnett consequences
  • consideration and agreement on how grant funding could be clawed back

ITT sector’s perspective

We consulted with sector representative organisations, including the National Association of School-based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) and the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), who advised on the potential risks of this policy. They highlighted that there may be pushback from the English providers who do use Welsh schools for placements for less than 50% of the total placement duration. However, it was noted that it would unlikely cause too much difficulty for the sector due to the relatively small number of impacted providers and schools.

Welsh government perspective

Welsh government colleagues appreciated being consulted before the decision was made. They understood that Welsh schools participating in ITT from September 2024 would need to implement the mentoring requirements but not be paid for them, unlike their English counterparts.

Their position is that whilst they can not stop Welsh schools from participating in English ITT, they must ensure they know the additional requirements and will not receive funding.

From their perspective, if they could convince approximately 100 schools to move from English ITT to Welsh, this would be a big win. However, whether this is feasible is another story, as northeast Wales is a cold spot for Welsh ITT providers. The closest Welsh initial teacher education (ITE) provider is Bangor, which is over an hour by car from the border.


Welsh placement schools are in scope for the General Mentor grant

Welsh ITT providers respond negatively, which could result in them forcibly requiring their placement schools to choose between working with Welsh or English ITT providers. This may reduce the number of Welsh placement schools working with English ITT providers.

The Department may face a reputational risk if Welsh providers work with the press, highlighting a potential policy overreach into devolved areas.

The guidance’s publication was delayed due to the required approvals, including approval from the Welsh government. The sector is already unhappy that the guidance has not been released.

It could set a precedent that we will pay schools outside England to support ITT. Should we also pay the small number of Northern Ireland and Scotland schools that take trainee teachers on courses with English providers?

Welsh placement schools are out of scope for the General Mentor grant

Cross-border English ITT providers respond negatively, as some placement schools will not be paid. This may result in a larger burden on their English placement schools, whose mentors may need to support trainees across multiple placements.

Paying Welsh schools via their accredited ITT providers

It could be possible to pay Welsh schools via their providers. However, there is a risk that this would incentivise providers to work with Welsh schools at the expense of English ones. Providers would top-slice the funding, which may benefit them. We also know trainees typically try to find employment in one of their placement schools. Therefore, this payment mechanism may result in trainees finding employment in Wales after being funded by England.


As there is no current mechanism to fund the majority of schools in Wales and the number of Welsh placement schools is relatively small, it is recommended that schools in Wales be outside the scope of the general mentor payment.

If the recommendation is adopted, we will work with the sector to assess how feasible it is for the general mentor in the first school to continue supporting the trainees as they undertake their placements in Wales. During sector engagement, we have heard that this arrangement is already under consideration.


Stacy Singleton approved the recommendation that Welsh placement schools are out of scope on 12 March 2024.