Disgrace of induction;Leading Article;Opinion

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
THE GOVERNMENT was quite right to introduce an induction year for new teachers. Newly-qualified staff now have the right to a reduced teaching timetable, a mentor, and an agreed action plan to monitor their development. They should be regularly observed while teaching, and allowed to watch experienced teachers in the classroom.

An excellent plan - but one which is in danger of coming apart at the seams. Too many schools are not offering new teachers what they need, and some seem unaware of what they should have been doing since September.

Meanwhile, the funding has been mishandled to an astonishing degree. Not only have local authorities been allocated widely disparate amounts but some, in sharing out the cash, have not taken account of whether schools were actually taking on any new recruits or not. To dish out scarce resources to schools which have no NQTs is sheer mismanagement.

A teacher who fails the induction year will not be able to register with the General Teaching Council as a qualified teacher; his or her career - after a substantial investment of time, effort and money - will have been stopped in its tracks when barely begun. Indeed, teachers whose induction year has not been properly managed or funded may have grounds for appeal, if not recourse to the courts.

There is no doubt that the whole policy needs to be single-mindedly driven through. Central government, local education authorities, schools and the young teachers themselves must all play their part. The Government should publicise induction much more assiduously, and make sure that LEAs are funded fairly. Local authorities must allocate the money to schools with NQTs. Schools should inform themselves of their responsibilities, and arrange for their new entrants to get the induction that they need. Otherwise schools, as well as NQTs, could find themselves in hot water at the end of the year. And young teachers themselves should complain - to their mentors, their schools or their union - if they are not getting the support they have a right to.

This is not the first editorial that The TES has recently devoted to this issue. We have returned to the subject because it is crucial, and because the lack of commitment shown to some of these recruits - in a profession which is crying out for young blood - is nothing short of disgraceful.

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