No more local heroes?

December 8, 1995

I was surprised that Anthea Millet in her explanation of the TTA's proposals for reform (THES, December 1) lists only four charges brought against the consultative document about the future of initial teacher training. The fact that she failed to mention that Coopers and Lybrand's "incisive analysis" has suggested that the funding of training institutions (providers) will be dependent on their students' employability - "outputs" rather than processes being the emphasis - perhaps accounts for this. If implemented, this very idea could bring serious consequences. Let me focus on just one.

Many providers attract a large percentage of students from, say, a 100-mile radius of the institution and, ultimately, many of those students prefer to seek work within that same area. The Coopers and Lybrand suggestion would be fine if all parts of England held the same prospects for Newly Qualified Teacher employment, but they do not. Does this mean that institutions in areas where employment is difficult to come by will suffer even if their academic provision is "very good" or "excellent"? The argument that they should side-step this problem by using "excellence" to attract the most employable - in other words more mobile and initially cheaper 18-year-olds - is bound to be used. (How many cans of social engineering worms can you see opening?) To keep it short, the Coopers and Lybrand idea potentially flies in the face of mission statements which encourage educational opportunities for all, whatever their age, life experience or culture.

I am fairly certain that Leeds Metropolitan University is not the only institution which seeks to attract people to return to learning and sees the value that cultural and experiential diversity could bring to bear in the classroom. (I thought the Government also valued this, especially if it included industrial experience). I hope, therefore, that the TTA will not opt for a system which could militate heavily against large numbers who have the commitment and qualities to make fine teachers and give much to the education of school pupils. For if, as Coopers and Lybrand say, it is the pupils who should be the main beneficiaries of quality teaching, then they should remember that real quality does not always come in cheap packages. And I, for one, do not want to be put in the position of turning away candidates at interview who, although they would make fine teachers, would not be cheap to employ.

PETER d'SENA

Leeds Metropolitan University

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