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Jim Dignan, HMI with responsibility for teacher education

Jim Dignan, HMI with responsibility for teacher education, parried concerns that there could be a drift towards a national curriculum in teacher training.

The disquiet was prompted by the revised training guidelines which refer to "basic common elements". Mr Dignan said this was simply an attempt to establish "a line below which we don't want to go. The issue is in deciding where that line should be."

The inspectorate is keen to promote the concept of "the new professional teacher," which would require teachers to embrace continuous professional development, Mr Dignan said.

The other ingredients in the package are the "expert teacher" and a standard for full registration, including a quality experience for probationers during the two years of their provisional registration with the General Teaching Council.

The creation of the expert teacher is dependent on the outcome of talks between the unions and the local authorities. Mr Dignan said there is unlikely to be one fixed standard for such teachers but "a repertoire of standards" which recognised the different skills required.

The new standard for registration is being drawn up by the GTC. Ivor Sutherland, the council's registrar, told the conference in Dundee that probationers often had a "nightmare" start. The GTC record is held by one probationer who had been in and out of 50 schools.

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