Information is NQTs' vital currency

16th January 2009 at 00:00

Short-changing the training needs of newly qualified teachers, of which some schools are apparently guilty of, is misguided (page 1). But blaming schools misses the point.

Ultimately, the challenge of training up our fledging teaching force lies with the Assembly government, and not within a beleaguered school budget.

A school's size, location and local authority will always have some bearing on how far schools can provide staff training. There is never an equal playing field in Wales.

All new teachers must take some responsibility for their training, undertaking their own research, and informing managers where they have knowledge gaps.

Funding is important, but not as much as the active and co-ordinated spreading of good practice. Every teacher should be made aware of proven teaching practices that work, be it in Sweden or Swansea.

There will be more successful teachers than others, as is the case in all professions, but there should not be information inequality. Sadly, this is the case.

From good foundations, teachers can go on to narrow yawning gaps between some of Wales's best and worst performing schools and classrooms, a disabling feature dragging down overall performance.

But there has to be an all-embracing national effort to that end.

To be fair, the school effectiveness framework is in its infancy. Pilot schools are currently working out how best to share good practice under the "messenger" of a super head or consortium.

In an interview with TES Cymru this week, Dr Bill Maxwell, chief inspector of schools and training, made it clear the spreading of good practice should be the main aim of 2009.

Weeks before the publication of his second annual report, he hinted it was absolutely crucial, but he expressed concern that there is not a national vehicle for this. There must be a better co-ordinated national approach to training teachers, starting at NQT level.

Training should not simply rely on a couple of thousand pounds available from the GTCW. New teachers need to know where to access information, and it should be from one source.

It is communication channels in Wales that should come under attack, not the creative accountancy of heads, when it comes to training our new teachers.

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