Whitehall to run teacher training

June 14, 1996

Teacher training will become the first area of higher education to have course content set by the Government, under plans unveiled this week.

Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, said she was prepared to use Government powers to impose a centrally prescribed curriculum on initial teacher training colleges and university education departments.

But there will be no new money to help institutions make the required changes.

Anthea Millett, the Teacher Training Agency's chief executive, said: "We believe that common attainment targets could be introduced for primary training focusing on the subject knowledge and teaching skills required."

Training for primary school teaching in reading, writing and mathematics, will be first to have the "essential content" of courses set by civil servants and ministers.

This will pave the way for a re-casting of initial teacher training in a new professional framework which "will go right across the board", Mrs Shephard said.

She suggested that the needs of school pupils, parents and trainee teachers should be put above concerns about protecting institutional autonomy, following recent reports from Government inspectors suggesting training was inadequate.

Pointing to surveys that had shown that 46 per cent of new teachers felt they had been poorly equipped for the job, she said: "There needs to be more prescription - and we have the levers to make that happen."

Proposals to be published in September and compiled by the TTA, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the education inspection agency Ofsted, will include a greater emphasis in training on the use of phonetics and whole-class teaching.

The changes amount to a move away from so-called "trendy" teaching methods and a renewed focus on the basics.

Mrs Shephard said: "Teachers must be equipped in their teacher training with knowledge of the methods that work best and the ability to use those methods effectively."

A spokesman for the TTA said that there were "hazy" areas of initial teacher training which needed tightening up. There was concern that student teachers were being introduced to different styles of teaching without being taught how to use them properly.

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