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GTC acts on teacher training

Moves to counter the sometimes strained relationships between schools and teacher training institutions lie behind a "partnership" initiative launched this week by the General Teaching Council. The initiative follows the Government's decision last October to abandon its favoured mentoring scheme for school-based training of secondary teachers. Local authorities and teachers' associations said the scheme was too costly and absorbed too much teacher time.

The council was subsequently asked by Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, to investigate other aspects of training and has now established a working group that will report early next year.

A key aim will be to clarify the precise roles of schools and teacher education institutions after research carried out by staff at Northern College and St Andrew's College uncovered "a lack of understanding".

Ivor Sutherland, the GTC's registrar, said: "There is confusion at the moment as teachers are generally not clear about what they are supposed to be doing and how they are supposed to relate to the tutor. Initial teacher education is no longer the sole responsibility of the teacher education institution. Part of our concern is to determine how that contribution can best be delivered. "

With 50 per cent of one-year postgraduate courses now based in schools and 25 per cent of the four-year primary course, it was essential the collaboration was reviewed.

Mr Sutherland said the review would extend from nursery through to secondary education. "It will develop a set of principles across a range of issues which will underpin good practice. It is a wide-ranging review, not of initial teacher education, but partnership in initial teacher education."

It is anticipated the group will set out guidelines on teachers' duties relating to training students in schools and how staff can improve contacts with supervising lecturers. "Some schools and teachers do not see it as part of their role to assess students," Mr Sutherland said.

The group will study the roles of principal teachers and class teachers in secondary schools. In primary schools, it will look at heads, assistant heads and class teachers. It is likely to examine how teachers can be involved in selecting students for courses. Administrative links between schools and teacher education institutions will be reviewed. The group will also assess the number of schools students should be placed in and the support needed for teachers involved with students.

Professor Gordon Kirk, principal of Moray House Institute and a member of the working group, hailed the initiative as "timely". The essence of the review would be "who does what". Professor Kirk hoped long-term agreements with schools over student placements would emerge.

Mary Rose Caden, the GTC's convener, will head the working group, which aims to produce an interim report within six months. It will include representatives from the local authorities, directors of education, headteachers and class teachers, teacher education institutions and the Scottish Office.

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