Start date for fast-track City worker course

London secondaries pilot to begin in September

Kerra Maddern

The controversial six-month teacher training course pushed through by Gordon Brown to allow former City workers to enter the classroom quickly will start this autumn, The TES can reveal.

Union leaders and experts were united in their criticism of the plans when they were announced in March. They feared it would mean new staff being ill-equipped to cope with the pressures of the job.

At the time, the Department for Children, Schools and Families admitted very few details had been agreed, so the news that the course will start in September is likely to surprise many.

The pilot will run in London secondary schools on a small scale - there will be places for fewer than 50. It is expected to attract specialists in shortage subjects, including maths and the sciences.

Regulations stipulating the amount of time students have to spend in school and training may have to be changed because of the brevity of the course.

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said the invitation to run the course had been sent out "quietly".

"We are pleased that very small numbers of students will be involved in the first instance in order to see if it works properly," he said.

Martin Thompson, chairman of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, said the short duration of the course would not allow those retraining from other jobs to unlearn old habits.

"You can't drop much from already packed training courses," he said. "This is just a case of trying to shoehorn everything in.

"It is important to remember that those who have an excellent subject knowledge don't necessarily make good teachers."

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT, said the new course would be a "very minor" part of the training sector.

The union wants the length of postgraduate teacher training to be doubled to two years.

"What this course will mean is a loss of relationship between the students and their lecturer, and the content being cut down to the knuckle," he said.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools will administer the course. Officers are going through bids from graduate training providers.

The exact style of the course will not be decided until the agency has chosen a bidder.

More details about it will be available next month.

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Kerra Maddern

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