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School-based training under pressure

The Government's new regime for teacher training is in danger of disintegrating, according to a new study from Warwick University.

The report, published by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, comes at the end of a year in which many schools have pulled out of teacher training, unable to cope with the extra responsibility.

According to the ATL the findings cast serious doubt on the quality of the schemes under which groups of schools operate as mini- training colleges. "It is a tribute to the commitment of teachers that these school-administered programmes were able to take place at all, given the inadequate lead-in time," say the authors.

Their research covers four training courses and a total of 87 student teachers of technology. Two of the courses are part of the controversial School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programme and two are organised in partnership with higher education institutions.

The report urges headteachers and governors to make "a more realistic assessment" of the cost of training student teachers.

In particular, it says that more attention should be paid to "mentors" - the teachers in charge of trainees. Their role involves more than simple supervision yet they lack sufficient time, confidence or training to meet the demands put upon them.

The study recommends that reports from the Office for Standards in Education should be published; an advice and information network set up; and the establishment of a nationwide structure for mentor training.

The Teacher Training Agency has just completed a nationwide series of seminars and is currently asking schools for help with a book outlining successful strategies.

"We will look at the ATL report with interest," said a spokesman. "But bear in mind that the SCITT scheme had been up and running for only one year. No other scheme has come under such close scrutiny in its first year."

The ATL will publish a second report on the research in which it will analyse how the programme helped the students in their first year of work.

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