Dispute may put careers in peril

Thousands of trainee teachers in England and Wales risk failing to qualify because lecturers are refusing to provide marks for their work. The students fear schools may not employ them, or will make them work as unqualified teachers and take pay cuts of more than pound;5,000.

It is unclear how many of the 30,000 trainees finishing teaching courses this summer have had their studies disrupted by industrial action over pay.

Negotiations between universities and academic unions were continuing as TES Cymru went to press, but some students fear their studies have been irreversibly damaged.

Some lecturers have told students that if their marks are delayed, schools can still employ them as unqualified teachers and give them back-pay later.

But the Department for Education and Skills in London has not said whether it will support this.

In Wales, staff at Swansea Institute of Higher Education (SIHE) are considering whether they can separate the awards of qualified teacher status (QTS) and postgraduate certificate in education or BA (for undergraduates).

Dr John Parkinson, head of SIHE's school of education, hopes the dispute will be resolved before academics meet on June 20 to ratify the qualifications of 440 PGCE students. "It will be a problem if the dispute is not settled," he said.

But Dr Carl Peters, Wales spokesman for the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said he understood students will need all the requirements to qualify - meeting QTS standards and having a degree.

"All training providers have set and marked assessments, and academics are withholding grades from exam boards," he said. "We all hope the action will be settled. There is a great deal of sympathy for the students."

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