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Have your say on future of training

The Teacher Training Agency is committed to working with classroom teachers and others in education for continued improvements in schools. In-service training is one of our priorities, but it is not having the impact it should. The knock-on effect is that many pupils are failing to benefit from the training their teachers have received, if they have received any at all. This is why we are about to begin the first fundamental review of in-service training.

It will include an independent "Survey of Current Provision" to be carried out by the Market and Opinion Research Institute. Figures I have seen indicate that some Pounds 400-Pounds 500 million is spent on in-service training every year. However, we have very little indication of what these resources are being spent on or how effectively they are being used. So, the review will seek out hard information across a wide range of training issues. These will include: the perceived quality, content and relevance of training; how schools are using the five training days; the sources of funding supporting training; and the perceived effectiveness of different types of training in improving teaching and learning. The survey will take the form of a questionnaire to a large sample of schools and training providers, with some follow-up interviews in more depth.

Much of the work we have undertaken in our first nine months has addressed funding and quality issues relevant to initial training. This has been important work which will help to set new standards of excellence for future generations of teachers. But what I find exciting about our review of in-service training is the scope for a much more immediate impact on standards. There are more than 450,000 serving teachers, compared to fewer than 20, 000 teachers newly qualifying each year. To affect teaching in today's classrooms, we must target today's teachers.

In education we now have a national curriculum, a national assessment system, national inspection arrangements and a national appraisal system. I believe that it is time to establish a national focus for in-service training. The Teacher Training Agency is here to do that. In doing so, we need to be very careful to avoid creating a bureaucratic or inflexible framework. We shall also consult at each step of the way.

The second part of our review will seek views on a range of options for a more strategic direction for the continuing professional development of teachers. This could range from a "light touch" system, setting national criteria for schools and teachers to use when planning and reviewing training, through to a national framework which might include a range of professional qualifications. Any system will need to take account of appraisal and inspection evidence.

In addition to conducting this review, we shall liaise with the Office for Standards in Education, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, LEAs, higher education institutions, professional associations and others and disseminate key features of effective in-service training. This will include such things as planning at school level, to identify and balance school and teacher needs and affect classroom practice; monitoring and review of the effects in the classroom of in-service training; and how to maximise the potential of different types of training for teachers, including the benefits of schoolhigher education partnerships in initial teacher training.

Through our review and dissemination activities, we shall point the way to a better targeted system with clearer objectives at every level. This work is vital to ensure that teachers' time and energies are not wasted on inappropriate or inadequate training; and if pupils are to benefit from the training that their teachers receive. I do not underestimate the challenge we have set ourselves. But it is a challenge we must meet if our schools are to provide the best education to pupils it is in our collective power to give.

We would like to give everyone with an interest the opportunity to take part in our survey of current provision andor the review of options for continuing professional development. If you would like to be involved, you can order the papers you need by calling the TTA order line on 0171-925 3726.

Initial responses will be required by June 16, although further opportunities to offer views will come up later.

Anthea Millett is chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency.

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