TTA friendship - with strings

April 7, 2000

Barely seven weeks after taking thehelm at the Teacher Training Agency, chief executive Ralph Tabberer (left) has already been able to offer the university sector something it has been crying out for.

The postgraduate teacher training salaries, he says, alongside other less dramatic initiativesto stem the pending recruitment crisis, are all part of his new vision of partnership betweenthe agency andthe often hostile higher education teacher trainers. Not for Mr Tabberer is the confrontational style of his predecessor, Anthea Millett, who caused outrage when she said in The THES that "teacher training is not an intrinsic part of higher education".

But Mr Tabberer's new-found friendship towards higher education comes with strings. And his carefully worded championing of universities' future role does not extend to a fight for the future of the bachelor of education degree.

"Certainly there will be a drift to-wards postgraduate teacher training,"he said. "I think the BEd has been very good and it will continue, but numbers will reduce over time as postgraduateprovision increases. And universitieswill have to make choices about the balance of provision."

He will not take up the universities' call to lobby for a training salary for the fourth year of the BEd. "People considering postgraduate study are making very different choices and face very different incentives than 18-year-olds choosing a degree."

Mr Tabberer expects the decline of the BEd to be offset by expected major growth in recruitment to the PGCE. He is quick to counter claims that the Pounds 6,000 salary, rising to Pounds 10,000 in shortage subjects, is not enough.

"The salary is great news," he said. "It is a very competitive package alongside other trainee and bursary packages. Remember, if you are one of the very best and train under our fast-track scheme, you get another Pounds 5,000 bursary on top of a Pounds 10,000 package. That's competitive."

Mr Tabberer is also careful to ensure his drives do not alienate universities. "I think higher education's contribution is extremely important, and we have every reason to be grateful to (the sector) for driving forward improvements in quality."

But providers have to be more flexible and work with others. "We have to make entry more flexible, and we want to work with higher education in pioneering new methods."

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