Some still pursue desire to teach

October 9, 1998

It was encouraging to see the attention you gave to teacher training ("Teacher training exodus", THES, October 2), but you failed to highlight that the lack of applicants and the reduction in universities offering teacher training was particular to England and Wales.

Although there is no room for complacency, the Scottish position is more healthy than the English. Certainly, the number of applicants is declining and there are difficulties in filling all the places in a small number of subject specialisms, but there is still a healthy excess of applicants over places.

What can be learned from the different recruitment patterns? The fact that Scotland has had a General Teaching Council since 1966 helps. The greater confidence government has shown in the collaboration between the Scottish Office and the teacher education institutions contributes. The close collaboration or full integration of teacher education with major universities is a bonus. There has been no need for an Ofsted or a Teacher Training Agency.

Even more important has been the self-confidence of teachers and organisations and the confidence parents have expressed in schools.

But, above all, there has been relatively more stability, with a preference for evolution over revolution.

Government in England has exacerbated the problem of teacher recruitment, and it would be well advised to temper its enthusiasm for change. The more often government draws attention to problems in teaching, the greater these problems may become.

A. Douglas Weir

Dean, faculty of education University of Strathclyde

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