Crisis? What crisis?

31st August 2001 at 01:00
I am writing to express my anger at the Government's instructions to select PGCE candidates primarily on their academic ability, above their suitability or aptitude for teaching. The press constantly bombards us with images of a recruitment crisis, yet in my experience this is a fallacy.

Three years ago, I applied through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry to do a PGCE course. Despite supposed teacher shortages locally, I was not even offered an interview by Sheffield Hallam University. It was so oversubscribed that it did not consider people with less than a 2.1 degree. I completed an ordinary BA degree on the understanding that this was adequate to gain entry to post-graduate courses. The GTTR then sent my application on to Bretton Hall College, which offered me a place on its PGCE course starting in September 1999. However, in the spring of 1999 I was told that, due to a cut in target numbers, Bretton Hall was no longer running the course. Following this disappointment, I decided to gain further school experience while waiting to re-apply for a PGCE and yet two years later, with the recruitment crisis allegedly worsening, I am having the same problems.

Admissions departments around the country tell me that with an ordinary degree I have little chance of being offered a place. During my time as a teaching assistant over the past two years, I have been responsible for the planning, delivery and assessment of literacy to children with learning difficulties. I planned and taught a 10-week course of booster classes to Year 6 children last year, ran a recorder group at lunchtimes and was invited to become a school governor. I have also attended many specialist courses. Yet I am apparently not "worth" being trained as a teacher. Surely degree classification bears little if any correlation to aptitude for teaching?

Claire Williams 81 Abbey View Road, Sheffield

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