A CHARITY behind a controversial “fast track” teacher training course has accepted millions of pounds in donations from banks with a chequered financial past.

Teach First, which has contacted the Scottish Government about producing a similar scheme to the one it runs south of the border, has received over £1million from Goldman Sachs, which agreed a multi-billion pound settlement in relation to its conduct ahead of the global crash.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, which had to be rescued by the UK Government in 2008, and a defence company are also listed as corporate partners.

Under the Teach First scheme, bright graduates can become teachers without going through the existing year-long post-graduate training courses.

The high-flyers undergo an intensive training programme, after which they can be placed into under-achieving schools within five weeks.

However, the charity’s funding model is facing scrutiny. Teach First received around £64m in 2015/16, much of which came from the public purse, but the charity has also received generous contributions from multinational companies.

Of the six “transformation partners”, all of which have donated over £1m, four are banking institutions. US-based Goldman Sachs was accused of “serious misconduct” for behaviour in the years leading up to 2008 financial crash. The American giant reportedly agreed a $5.1bn settlement with US authorities over historic allegations of mis-sold mortgage-backed securities. The firm is a long-term supporter of Teach First and the charity is also part of the Goldman Sachs Community TeamWorks programme.

Another transformation partner, HSBC, agreed in 2012 to pay US authorities $1.9bn in a settlement over money laundering. HSBC has provided over £2m to Teach First and has supported the organisation for over a decade.

Teach First also breaks down its other external donors into four categories – platinum, gold, silver and bronze. So-called platinum supporters include RBS, which would have gone bust in 2008 had the UK Government not provided a multi-billion pound bailout. Defence firm Thales is listed as a gold supporter, while the City of London Corporation – the governing body of the City of London – is in the silver category.

A spokesperson for Teach First said: “As a charity we rely on donations from a range of generous individual, corporate and trust supporters. This is in addition to the funding we receive from the Government, which directly funds our Leadership Development Programme (i.e. including our initial teacher training). "

A spokesperson for the EIS trade union said: “The EIS has long held serious reservations about the Teach First model, and will continue to oppose any suggestion that ‘training on the job’ should be adopted – in any form – in Scotland’s schools.”

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said: "Teach First is a disastrous idea which undermines quality of teaching. It's no real surprise that such a fast and loose model is bankrolled by those whose reckless behaviour took our economy to the brink but it should surely ring alarm bells."