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New teachers still 'unskilled' in handling ethnic pupils

Only 30 per cent of new teachers feel that their training has provided them with the necessary skills to teach pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds, a new survey has revealed.

More than 10,000 teachers who completed their training this summer were interviewed for the annual survey of new teachers, conducted by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA).

While almost 90 per cent of those questioned described their initial teacher training as either good or very good, the survey revealed specific gaps in training courses. Notably, fewer than one-third of teachers felt well prepared to teach pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds, with no improvement on last year's figure.

A spokesperson for the Commission for Racial Equality said: "The TTA has identified issues and needs. We need to ensure that all teacher-training providers address this issue seriously, and that it becomes part of their mainstream work."

The TTA plans a resource network to help teacher-training organisations develop the teaching skills needed for pupils from diverse ethnic backgrounds. A steering group to discuss this was due to meet on November 12.

The survey also revealed other strengths and weakness. Only 60 per cent of teachers interviewed felt they possessed the necessary skills to teach pupils with different abilities. And fewer than 60 per cent felt able to establish and maintain a good standard of discipline.

But 86 per cent described their training as either good or very good. This is 4 per cent higher than last year's figure, and the highest since the survey began four years ago. By contrast, only 1 per cent of new teachers rated their training as poor.

Satisfaction with the quality of training varied between subjects.

Ninety-three per cent of history teachers described their training as good or very good, as did 90 per cent of modern languages specialists. But only 73 per cent of new ICT teachers believed that they had been well-prepared for their chosen job.

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the TTA, believes that the results are encouraging. "The quality of training and newly qualified teachers is better than ever," he said "People now thinking about becoming a teacher can be confident that training will provide them with the theory and practical experience they need to teach effectively."

"The survey highlights some areas where trainees feel they need additional support. We shall discuss these in detail as we work together to raise standards."

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