Of money, martyrs and mentors

9th June 1995 at 01:00
The willingness of staff at Douay Martyrs School to take part in the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training Scheme for no extra pay is indeed commendable (TES, May 19). Most schools involved in the articled teacher scheme participated because the funding provided opportunities for mentors to be released for training and to spend time with their students, without compromising the teaching of their classes. With a few notable exceptions, they were paid extra money too.

It is precisely because this funding cannot now be matched at the same level that many schools are withdrawing from school-based schemes. To support students properly mentors need time with them outside the classroom. Experience of the articled teacher scheme demonstrated the effectiveness of properly-resourced partnerships between schools and higher education institutions. Cover for one half-day per week to release mentors was not uncommon and mentors and students felt that this was a minimum, as most found additional time outside school hours. Most important, mentors did not feel that they were neglecting their classes because cover was arranged.

Even under the more generous SCITT funding this level of support is difficult for schools to sustain. It is impossible under the much less generous offering of the higher education institutes, themselves struggling to maintain quality as they shed staff in order to pay schools.

As reported by Nicholas Pyke (TES, May 19), schools see their main function as teaching children rather than training teachers. Schools are more concerned about the outcome of their Office for Standards in Education report than about their training track record.

KATE JACQUES

Chichester Institute of Higher Education Chichester West Sussex

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