Blunkett adds flesh but core may flunk

April 4, 1997

Teacher training has emerged as a hot election issue

David Blunkett has fleshed out the Labour party's plans to improve teacher training.

The shadow education and employment secretary's Teacher 2000 programme has been welcomed generally by the higher education community, but his insistence on "a strong core curriculum for teacher training" looks unlikely to win support.

The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers and the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals expressed alarm when education secretary Gillian Shephard announced plans for a national curriculum for initial teacher training earlier this year.

They argued that the proposals dealt a severe blow to academic autonomy, and would set an unhealthy precedent for politically motivated intervention from secretaries of state.

This week UCET issued a brief statement which backed Mr Blunkett's Teacher 2000 programme wholeheartedly, apparently ignoring Labour's plan for a national curriculum. Labour's teacher training proposals draw on perceived Government failures in teacher training, notably "an impending crisis in teacher numbers" through under recruitment.

The programme includes plans for a General Teaching Council; plans to widen access to teacher training; a new career grade of "advanced skills teacher"; the use of lottery funds to improve information technology; a proposed induction year for newly qualified teachers and a core curriculum.

Mr Blunkett said: "Ours will be a partnership approach that links schools and institutions in the drive for higher standards."

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