Millions needed for training

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Audit shows colleges need extra funds and support if teaching standards are to match schools. Neil Merrick reports

Millions of pounds must be pumped into training for post-16 teachers if standards in colleges are to be raised to match those in schools, ministers have been told.

An independent audit by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that more money is needed for the expanded system of initial teacher education proposed by the Department for Education and Skills.

The Association of Colleges forecasts that an extra pound;65 million per year is required from 20067 if new lecturers are to receive better training and support inside and outside the classroom.

The DfES review was launched last November following a damning criticism of teacher training for college lecturers by the Office for Standards in Education. According to Ofsted, many staff lack specialist knowledge as well as literacy and numeracy skills.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was asked to carry out an audit to coincide with consultations on the DfES proposals, which finished earlier this week. It is understood that the report, which has yet to be published, says present funding is only sufficient to pay for existing training. More money is needed if trainees are to receive more help, including mentoring by experienced staff.

Dan Taubman, an official at the lecturers' union Natfhe, said funds are needed to cover the knock-on effects - including the need to reduce teaching workloads for trainees and mentors. "If not, it will affect the ability of colleges to deliver learning and also meet targets set by the Learning and Skills Council," he said.

Monica Deasy, director of operations at the Further Education National Training Organisation, said colleges and other providers do not have the infrastructure to support new staff in the same way as schools. "If we are going to get the quality right, we must put in the money," she said.

Ministers have still to decide whether staff who complete training will become qualified teachers of further education or learning and skills. The sector is also divided over whether teacher training should be to graduate level, as in schools.

Natfhe says staff should have degree-level teaching skills, but the Learning and Skills Development Agency believes teachers with a subject qualification at level 4 only need a level 3 teaching qualification - equivalent to a first-year undergraduate.

Ivor Jones, AoC director of employment policy, said: "The requirement for all teaching staff to be graduates would have a negative effect on the vocational curriculum and present difficulties in recruiting lecturers with the appropriate vocational or professional skills."

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