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Holyrood SOS over funding for new teachers

The General Teaching Council for Scotland has taken its "gravest concerns" about the future funding of teacher education courses to the Scottish Executive.

It has protested "in the strongest possible terms" against proposals by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council which could cut support by up to 16 per cent.

The strong criticism expressed at the GTC's March meeting has now been passed to Professor John Sizer,the funding council's chairman, and copied to Jack McConnell, Education Minister, and Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister, who is responsible for the council.

Mr McConnell was said to have been furious when the proposals were revealed and came as close as he could in public last month to condemn them. He is particularly concerned at any move which could undermine attempts to recruit the extra 4,000 teachers required under the post-McCrone settlement.

In his last act as registrar of the GTC, Ivor Sutherland told Professor Sier that the timing of the funding council's proposals was "ill-conceived" , given the provisions in the teachers' settlement for expanding the profession and guaranteeing continuous professional development.

The GTC is particularly concerned at the threat to the four-year primary BEd degree which faces a cut of more than12 per cent. This is the main route into primary teaching, the GTC says, and is vital in maintaining a quality workforce. It suggests the BEd would be "devalued" in favour of the one-year primary postgraduate course. The status of teacher education would also suffer in relation to other university disciplines .

Urging the funding council to reconsider, Dr Sutherland warned of wider repercussions if funds for teacher education were cut. "The proposed reduction would . . .mean that such provision would not be possible without major cross-subsidy from other disciplines which themselves could be adversely affected by the proposals."

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