TTA is called to account

June 20, 1997

AN accountability crisis faced by the Teacher Training Agency detracts from the key issues facing teacher education, a study to be published in August will conclude.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, questions the TTA's "responsibility, accountability, and transparency" and finds that the agency is not adequately accountable to the teaching profession, teacher trainers and the public at large.

The study finds that the TTA lacks a clear power framework; blocks public access to information; consults only to a narrow, political agenda; and is seen as "threatening" to outside partners.

Pat Mahony and Ian Hextall from the Roehampton Institute, London, found in their study, "The Policy Context and Impact of Teacher Training Agency", that "no one really knows who is working on what, with whom, with what remit, through what procedures, reporting to whom or with what recording procedures."

It found that the very organisations most closely involved with the TTA's work were the least satisfied with its accountability.

The two-year study combined documentary analysis with interviews and a survey of all higher education teacher trainers, all local education authorities and 176 schools. A paper based on the findings is to be published in the Journal of Education Policy in August.

The survey found that only 30 per cent of higher education institutions and local authorities reported they were "satisfied" with the TTA's general activities. Over 55 per cent of teacher trainers said the agency's accountability was "unsatisfactory" or "poor" and 85 per cent expressed dissatisfaction with the TTA's approach to research.

"The TTA is part of the whole move towards a quango state," said Professor Mahoney. "And it is part of the democratic deficit in the UK. From the appointment of its board to its working procedures, there is a real lack of accountability and transparency."

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