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Staff get basic skills to teach

SPECIALLY-trained adult basic skills teachers will be in action next year as the first approved qualification is announced.

Oxford Brookes University is ready to take on about 50 lecturers for its basic skills teaching certificate, which has been approved by FENTO, the further education national training organisation.

Hilary Stone, FENTO's quality and standards director, said: "As more rigour is built into the teacher training of staff who deliver adult basic skills, we will see a definite impact on the quality of learning."

But there are mixed reactions from principals to the extra training needed for basic skills teachers.

Ahmed Choonara, principal of South Nottinghamshire College, said: "On the ground, it is likely to have a negative effect on recruitment because we already find it difficult to recruit basic skills teachers. We advertised three times and raised the salary to pound;28,000 and still have a problem."

Annette Zera, principal of Tower Hamlets College, said: "The more opportunities for training there are the better. These people deserve the very best training and the more investment there is the more they will feel valued. We must not think about qualifications as hurdles."

The qualifications are part of the Government's wider strategy to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of 750,000 adults by 2004. Adult basic skills lecturers who are already in post are expected to qualify through continuing professional development.

The Oxford Brookes course has attracted existing staff as well as those on the university's postgraduate certificate in post-compulsory education.

Jenny Hankey, the university's course leader for PGCE, said: "People come into literacy from all sorts of routes. They may be drafted in from other curriculum areas without a proper knowledge of how language works.

"It is about time that literacy and numeracy teachers gained a thorough subject knowledge and achieved the status they deserve."

The mandatory generic teaching qualifications, which apply to all subjects, have to be achieved by new lecturers within two years.

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