Second thoughts on Scots mentors

August 4, 1995

The Scottish Office Education Department has postponed its controversial mentor scheme for student teachers following lack of support from schools.

College of education staff fear that the scheme, where schools take a greater role in training and assessment, would reduce the quality of teacher education, and threaten the number of staff in colleges.

The SOED was to give the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council an extra Pounds 2 million for the next two sessions for the scheme. Students on the one-year postgraduate secondary teacher training course would be mentored by trained teachers during extended school placements.

But the SOED says the teacher education institutions have not secured enough school placements with mentor teachers for the coming session, and the scheme will not now be introduced until 1996.

Raymond Robertson, the new Scottish Office education minister, said: "I am conscious that difficulties encountered in trying to get the scheme off the ground this year may have arisen not from any strong opposition to the idea of teachers carrying out a mentor role, but rather because of other factors such as teachers' workload and the financial situation of the teacher education institutions."

* The three free-standing teacher education institutions, Moray House Institute of Education, and St Andrew's and Northern Colleges of Education, whose student intakes are fixed by Government, have all had to submit plans to SHEFC to eliminate their dependence on Pounds 1.9 million safety net funding.

SHEFC has decided to release Pounds 457,000 to Moray House, and has approved in principle its bid for extra funds for two more years.

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