Not so 'abysmal'

18th April 2008 at 01:00
In your page 1 report, "Quadruple training for teachers" (TES, April 11), Julia Margo of the Institute for Public Policy Research is quoted as saying the amount of teacher training in England was "abysmal".

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, I attended some outstanding courses for both English and drama teachers, organised by the then Inner London Teaching Authority at one or other of their well-equipped teaching centres. At the Drama and Tape centre, I attended courses that introduced me not only to current best practice but to outstanding practitioners and theorists of international standing.

The abolition of the Inner London Education authority (ILEA), for whatever good or bad political reasons, should not obscure the fact that it provided some of the best professional in-service training for those lucky enough to have access to it. The problem with much current training is not its length but its quality.

To expand the number of days devoted to improving classroom skills without presenting schools with cutting-edge courses would merely extend the mind-numbing tedium that is so frequently inflicted upon teachers in the name of in-service training.

The ILEA cannot return, but the lessons of its best points could be revisited. Large cities ought to be able to provide centrally administered centres of excellence to enable all boroughs to have easy access to specialists. Even two days of fresh and stimulating imput can transform what might have become stale classroom practice.

Simon McCarthy, Retired English and drama teacher, Hackney, London.

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