Credit due to training universities

12th November 2004 at 00:00
It was with irritation that we read that some (although interestingly not all) of the authors of the recent Politeia report, including Chris Woodhead, were arguing that higher education institutions should not have any involvement in teacher education.

In calling for all initial teacher education to be school-based, the authors ignore the fact that a large proportion of both postgraduate and undergraduate training already takes place in schools. They fail to recognise the involvement of higher education institutions in the majority of the school-centred initial teacher training and employment-based provision that they favour.

They are also guilty of not comparing like with like when referring to the higher percentage of teachers from employment-based routes remaining in the teaching profession after three years; teachers qualifying through employment-based routes tend to be older than their PGCEBEd colleagues and so are less likely to change career. A comparison between teachers of the same age across the various routes would yield different results.

Good research is based on robust evidence and not political mindset. For the record, the Office for Standards in Education now rates the vast majority of initial teacher education as "good" or "very good", and (in a separate piece of analysis) over 80 per cent of newly-qualified teachers said the training they received was either "good" or "very good".

While Mr Woodhead does question the worth of Ofsted teacher-training reports, he neglects to mention that it was under his leadership at Ofsted that they were established. Teacher education is one of the great success stories of recent years. Higher education institutions, and the schools they work with, deserve credit for this. It is a pity that some are unwilling to give it.

James Rogers Executive director (designate) Universities Council for the Education of Teachers 58 Gordon Square, London WC1

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