Editor's comment

13th August 2010 at 01:00

There's no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes. So when the Hunter Foundation - the charitable arm of Sir Tom Hunter's multi- million pound enterprise - offered to provide half of the pound;1.8 million funding for a pioneering approach to teacher education at Aberdeen University, the money came with strings attached (p1).

We know that the foundation wants to see proof of Aberdeen University's commitment to "embedding" the Scottish Teachers for a New Era (STNE) programme and that it can ensure its "stable continuation". Unfortunately we do not know the "key performance targets" the foundation requires STNE to have met before it will deliver its overdue final tranche of funding, about pound;250,000.

Ewan Hunter, chief executive of the Hunter Foundation, insists that details of these targets are between the foundation, the Scottish Government (which has provided the other half of the STNE's pound;1.8m funding) and the university.

The TESS would argue that it is in the public interest to know these details. The STNE programme was bold in its inception, with stated aims being to bring more theory and research into teacher training and encourage students to study subjects outside the school of education.

But mid-term evaluations of the programme (The TESS, March 28, 2008) suggested that many students did not find the elective courses useful and were asking for less of an emphasis on theory.

If the Hunter Foundation is stalling in the delivery of its final funding for the programme, we need to know whether this is because of fundamental flaws in STNE - or not - since many other institutions are taking it as a role model.

STNE's potential money woes highlight the fragility of funding for many initiatives.

Philanthropists can always give with one hand and take back with the other.

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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