Mature entrants to cut no corners

18th July 1997 at 01:00
Your report correctly identified the background to the announcement of our consultation on new employment-based routes into teaching: our desire to attract high-quality mature candidates into teaching by offering them a route suited to their needs (TES, July 4). I would, however, like to clarify one aspect of our proposals on which the report might prove misleading.

I will be interested to hear the views expressed by those whom we are consulting, but want to reassure TES readers that, despite the supply problems we have inherited, we are not looking to cut any corners. All trainees will have to reach the same rigorous high standards expected of all those qualifying as teachers.

It is true that a few mature graduates would be able to qualify in one term, but this will not be the norm. The only candidates able to qualify this quickly would be those with directly relevant previous experience, for example those who had taught in further education colleges, independent schools or schools overseas. The length of their training programme would depend upon the nature of their past experience. Most candidates would follow a one-year programme.

The position is similar on the non-graduate route. Only those with directly relevant previous experience would be able to qualify in one year. Most candidates would take two years. A non-graduate route is not something new. What is new is our proposal that non-graduate trainees will have to study for a degree alongside their professional training. Candidates will have to obtain their degree before qualified teacher status can be awarded.

ESTELLE MORRIS Education junior minister Department for Education and Employment Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street London SW1

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