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Shift of INSET funds was needed;Letter

There is no question of the Teacher Training Agency seeking to rationalise the geographical or institutional bases of in-service training provision through its funding allocation (TES letters, March 13).

The allocations announced last month were based entirely on national priorities and criteria established following two detailed consultation exercises over a period of more than a year.

The system for distributing in-service education and training funds which the TTA inherited involved a closed group of providers routinely receiving money year after year. It is not surprising, therefore, that they came to regard these funds as an entitlement. The system was not geared to meet clearly defined educational objectives. In support of the national drive to raise standard in schools, the TTA could not continue to use its very limited INSET resources in this way.

The introduction of a bidding system which opened up the possibility of other providers receiving funds was bound to upset established patterns of funding and produce winners and losers. However, the TTA has explicitly recognised the need to ensure that change can be properly managed by putting in place a three-year transitional period.

In 199899, all existing INSET providers will receive at least 75 per cent of the funding which they could have expected under the previous system. To put the change into perspective, within a total allocation of around pound;21 million, some pound;2m will change hands in 199899.

Moreover, for the first time, all of the available funding from the TTA will be devoted to supporting schoolteachers on INSET courses; in the past, schoolteachers benefited from only part of the money.

The TTA has already said that interim bidding rounds will be arranged so that further allocations, reflecting emerging needs and priorities, can be made in respect of 19992000 and 20002001. The basis of these bidding rounds and the sums involved will be announced later this year, taking full account of comments on the pattern of provision which emerged from this year's exercise. Access to high-quality INSET remains the TTA's top priority.

ANTHEA MILLETT

Chief executive Teacher Training Agency London SW1

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