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It's another fine training mess;Letter

Hazel Bines (TES, March 27) makes a number of accurate criticisms of the Teacher Training Agency's recent allocation of funding for the continuing professional development of teachers. However, in relation to special educational needs training the situation is even worse than she describes.

Keeping serious SEN training on the educational agenda has been a major struggle since the optimistic late 1970s when the Warnock Committee recommended its systematic enhancement as a key means of increasing integration. This struggle, in the main, has been characterised by the implementation of policies which studiously ignored the needs of a significant minority of children and young people.

With the publication of the Government's Green Paper Excellence for all Children last October, it did seem possible that SEN training would be taken seriously at last. The document clearly articulates the need for good quality continuing professional development which is coherently planned on a regional basis. This approach, if well implemented, would enable specialist training to take root in such a way that all schools and teachers could potentially benefit from it. It would also support the overarching aim of the Green Paper, which is to increase the "quality and level of provision" in mainstream education, making it more capable of meeting the needs of pupils with diverse abilities.

What the TTA has done, incomprehensibly it seems to me, is to implement a funding policy which ignores recommendations in the Green Paper completely and leaves vast tracts of the country without appropriate training. This policy is likely to deracinate special education training even further and cause a growth in segregated forms of provision.

The Department for Education and Employment and the Teacher Training Agency need to speak to each other urgently; acknowledge before it is too late that they have got themselves into "another fine mess", and come up with something that contains a semblance of educational sense.

Christopher Robertson

Senior lecturer Special needs research and development centre Canterbury Christ Church College

Canterbury Kent

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