Students less likely to suffer poor teaching, Wicks warns

November 19, 1999

Intolerance of poor teaching will rise the more students have to pay for their education, lifelong learning minister Malcolm Wicks predicted this week.

Speaking at the launch of a Pounds 12.5 million research programme into teaching and learning in London last Monday, Mr Wicks said it was odd that after 150 years of state education there was so little research on what worked best in classrooms and lecture theatres.

Mr Wicks, a former social science lecturer, said: "No one ever taught me how to teach, and no senior teacher ever observed me teaching. We have to remedy this. If half of all young people are going to go to university next century and they have to pay for it, we are going to see a growing intolerance of poor teaching."

The five-year programme, looking at all age groups, was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council and is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly and Department for Education and Employment.

Mr Wicks said policy-makers are still not getting enough evidence-based research.

In the first phase, Pounds 1.9 million is being split among four projects involving schools and the workplace and two career development associates. A network will link academics from various disciplines and institutions to work on them.

Bidders for the second tranche of cash have been asked to focus on motivation and engagement, cognition and learning communities.

"Motivation is top of the agenda because it affects everyone and is a deep problem. Even good students were quick to say 'if 35 is the pass mark, 36 is a waste of effort'," said programme director Charles Desforges.

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