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Christian worries over fast track

CHRISTIAN student teachers will miss out on the chance to join the elite fast-track promotion scheme, say church leaders, write Karen Thornton and Leala Padmanabhan.

The new fast-track pathway has been devised by the Government to develop a cadre of school leaders. But Catholics and the Church of England are worried that only one of the 10 fast-track training institutions - the Anglican Canterbury Christ Church college - is denominational.

This is despite the fact that, between them, church colleges supply a third of new teachers. Catholic schools alone make up 10 per cent of the state sector. Neither Church wishes to be faced with a limited supply of future leaders.

Oona Stannard, director of the Catholic education service, said she had taken the issue up with both the Teacher Training Agency and the Department for Education and Employment. Canon John Hall, her Church of England counterpart, echoed her concrns.

Meanwhile, with only 12 working days before the January 5 deadline for fast-track applications DFEE officials are still working on the details of the courses. They have promised to publish draft content for the courses before Christmas.

Proposals by the colleges for extra duties for the fast track include requiring students to mentor disaffected pupils and take additional leadership training. There may also be central seminars, regional conferences, and summer schools.

The DFEE says it has received 70,000 visitors to its fast-track website, but is being cagey about the number of actual applications.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers has voiced concern that as many as 32 of the 80 assessors of fast-track applications will come from a business recruitment, not a teaching background. or call the fast track teaching recruitment line on 08000 56 22 66

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