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Select band of providers could share expertise with others

A SELECT band of teacher-training providers could become "centres of excellence" charged with spreading their good practice to other institutions, writes Karen Thornton.

The idea, modelled on beacon schools, is being considered by the Teacher Training Agency, despite initial opposition from universities. Ralph Tabberer, the TTA's chief executive, speaking at the agency's annual meeting in Birmingham this week, said such centres of excellence "might model good practice and use it to guide others".

But he acknowledged opposition from some heads of university education departments, who fear that excellence centres might demotivate others which are not awarded the status or associated additional funding.

The idea has been thrown up by the TTA's teacher-training support division, a relatively new department which is looking at ways in which the agency can help training providers improve the quality of their work.

Its director, Chris Dee, said excellence centres might cover specific areas of work, for example on training students to work in a multicultural society.

This year's newly-qualified teachers reported that this was one area where they felt less well prepared than others.

"The expertise we need is not in the TTA, it is in the higher education institutions, schools and school-centred initial teacher-training schemes," he said.

The TTA is also looking at what additional support it can offer to new and struggling providers: to those introducing the new standards for qualified status; on regional issues and on improving and expanding partnerships with schools.

Diary, 23

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