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Six months to train? Not the Welsh way

There is no "appetite, need or desire" in Wales for fast-tracking new teachers into the profession in six months, the General Teaching Council for Wales said this week.

Teachers' unions reacted with shock at government plans, announced this week, to halve the minimum period of teacher training in England from 12 to six months for people who lose their jobs in the recession.

The Government aims to recruit high-flyers to the profession - including jobless bankers who could make good maths teachers.

But Gary Brace, chief executive of the GTCW, said the idea demeaned the hard work and commitment of teachers.

"The art of teaching isn't something that can be learnt overnight," he told TES Cymru.

If the scheme goes ahead, fast-track teachers who train in England would be recognised in Wales.

But Mr Brace said there was a danger it might attract individuals not committed to a teaching career.

Under the plans, some high-flyers could become heads in as little as four years. But Mr Brace said: "Most heads gain respect in their positions based on the years they have spent undertaking a variety of roles, many of which will have been in the classroom."

David Egan, professor of education at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, who is involved in a scheme to develop teachers' leadership skills, said six months of training seemed too short.

"We need to develop leaders as early as we can, but the idea of teachers becoming heads in four years is certainly not part of that," he said.

But Wales should be looking at different models of training, he said: "The idea of fast-tracking is not new, but we don't have schemes such as Teach First here in Wales.

"We need to do something more than we are doing already, given that the quality of teaching is the most important issue in schools and in the school effectiveness framework."

A minority of teachers in Wales train through the graduate teacher training programme, which can be completed in as little as one term.

An Assembly government spokesman said there were no plans to reproduce the six-month fast-track scheme in Wales.

Full reports, pages 14-15.

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