Sutherland training idea vetoed

November 21, 1997

The government has rejected the Dearing report's recommendation that a new national committee of inquiry should be set up to examine teacher training in higher education.

Sir Stewart Sutherland reported separately on teacher training for Dearing's National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education and concluded that a stand-alone committee was necessary "to consider the arrangements for teacher education in more detail".

But in a letter to Sir Stewart, school standards minister Estelle Morris said: "I do not see a need to establish a new committee to consider these issues afresh."

Ms Morris sent Sir Stewart a point-by-point response to the recommendations in his report, deferring most decisions until January, when the government responds to Parliament on the select committee report on teacher recruitment. She said that the government had already taken steps to tackle the issues Sir Stewart raised.

But the University Council for the Education of Teachers disagreed, and said that the sector needed a national inquiry.

"What is missing at the moment is a central forum for debate," said UCET secretary Mary Russell. "Everyone involved needs to be able to work together. That way we might get something sensible before anything gets as far as a consultation document."

Ms Russell said that UCET welcomed the government's commitment to improve recruitment to teacher training, but warned that the Teacher Training Agency's plans to widen access to training could become excessively bureaucratic.

"Everything is being narrowed down and made more uniform. All the paperwork means that you are often not looking at individuals," said Ms Russell.

UCET is also anxious that the government has only waived tuition fees for postgraduate teacher training, and not for undergraduate courses.

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