Extra year to spot the future failure;Briefing;Document of the week

19th March 1999 at 00:00
The induction period for recently-qualified teachers has been welcomed across the board. Jon Slater reports on the draft details

Details of the new induction year for newly-qualified teachers were published this week. It is a policy popular with teachers, parents and politicians alike - a consensus almost unique in recent years. Perhaps for that reason, it has been largely ignored by the press.

But this should not detract from its importance. It is a key plank of the Government's plans to raise the standards and status of teaching.

Ministers hope the draft regulations will give teachers a head start in the classroom and improve the standard of newly-qualified teachers. Those not up to the job can be quickly identified before they waste years of their own careers and their pupils' education.

From September, all recently-qualified trainee teachers will be required to complete a year'sprobation before gaining qualified-teacher status. The regulations set out the nuts and bolts of how this will operate - including where an induction year can be served, how teachers qualify and the procedure for appeals.

But this is not a new idea. The Conservatives abolished the old probationary year in 1992 as part of their shake-up of teacher-training. But even they now support its re-introduction - in principle at least. If the Tories are recent converts then the unions are dyed-in-the-wool supporters.

But as always the devil is in the detail - and the funding. Despite indications that cash will be available from the standards fund, unions are worried that schools, especially small primaries, will be unable to afford the cost of employing these new teachers.

Those on an induction year will spend 10 per cent less of their time teaching than their more experienced colleagues - giving more time for lesson preparation and training. But schools will have to use existing staff, or more likely supply teachers, to cover lost hours.

When the year is completed the head will measure the teacher's performance against standards set by the Secretary of State. He or she will then recommend to the local education authority whether a teacher should pass, fail or have their induction year extended.

Teachers who fail their induction year or who have their induction period extended will have the right to appeal.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, summed up professional reaction: "I'm pleased to see such carefully detailed appeal rights."

However, those who fail face the end of their teaching career - each person can only do one induction year.

DRAFT REGULATIONS ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR INDUCTION FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS

Induction period

1 year. Part-time teachers must do the equivalent period e.g. 2 years for those working 2.5 days a week.

Qualifying schools All state schools except those on special measures and pupil- referral units; plus independent schools which meet national curriculum requirements.

Assessment

is the responsibility of the LEA, based on the recommendation of the headteacher, in line with guidelines issued by the Secretary of State.

Appeals

Teachers who fail or have their induction period extended can appeal. Appeal bodies can decide that a teacher should pass, fail or do a further period of induction.

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