Teacher training has emerged as a hot election issue
The Teacher Training Agency is "unable to say 'no' to the Government" and is "insulting" to educationists, the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers has told to Sir Ron Dearing's higher education inquiry.
In a late Dearing submission last week, the Standing Committee reiterated its demands for a general teaching council in a tough attack on the Teacher Training Agency.
It said: "A profession needs an independent voice. We believe this function cannot be fulfilled by a quango such as the TTA. In our view the TTA is not best placed to win the trust of many teachers and teacher educators because it cannot adequately establish its independence from the Department for Education and Employment.
"The Government has neither a responsibility for, nor the expertise, to make most educational decisions nor is it best placed to make decisions on an educational rather than a political basis."
SCETT, representing lecturers' unions and individual university education departments, claims to represent "all teachers working in all areas of our education system". It suggested to the inquiry that "for such a body to express a deep concern is significant".
SCETT called for the funding of teacher education to be returned to the higher education funding councils and attacked the TTA's methods and attitude.
"The TTA all too frequently assumes the unproblematic and objective truth of its own assertions, and attributes subjective and ideological motives to those who dissent from those assertions. It thus follows that those who disagree either do not wish to improve educational standards, or that they are wrong," it said.
The committee also expressed "deep concern" about an "attempt to undermine the role of higher education in teacher education". It "deplored" the recent statement from the TTA's chief executive, Anthea Millett, in The THES, that "initial teacher training is not an academic study, and therefore an intrinsic part of higher education".
The TTA said it could not comment during the election campaign, but an agency source dismissed the criticisms as "laughable".
The agency has stressed it is a non-departmental public body. Its remit is set and its board is appointed by the Secretary of State, but the DFEE now has only "observer status" at board meetings. The TTA says its new funding methodology, quality assessment framework and continuing professional development programmes were innovations which received no steering from the DFEE.
* Leader, page 14