Paths into teaching

20th July 2001 at 01:00
IT is a pity that your analysis on teacher recruitment (TES, July 6) did not take a more critical look at the situation. The graduate teacher programme (GTP) demonstrates a number of problems. It looks as though many candidates on the GTP would have come via the PGCE route if only that had been available. Many universities and colleges have provided evidence that potential recruits on their PGCE courses have opted for the GTP because they then have a salary of pound;12,000, rather than the pound;6,000 for PGCE students.

Thus, it is often a rerouting of candidates rather than drawing in new people. Second, it must be borne in mind that, for the Government, the GTP is an expensive route: pound;17,000 per student as opposed to pound;11,000 per undergraduate or postgraduate.

Third, there is no firm quality-control system for GTP.

More seriously, Alan Smithers may think that becoming a teacher is akin to a Marks and Spencer training programme, but the really great teachers needed to learn more than just a few techniques in the classroom. They reflect on and learn from research, they get to grips with theory, they discuss ideas, and they learn to be professionals who can make choices, act creatively, develop critical faculties, and are encouraged to question received wisdom.

All of this is better achieved from a university or college base, in partnership with schools, rather than through the GTP or the school-centred initial teacher training schemes (SCITTs).

Ironically, although Estelle Morris talks of a higher turnover in schools - no longer "jobs for life" - the Government is reducing the targets for teacher recruitment by 800 over the next two years.

Alan Cousins University and College Lecturers' Union, 3 Fore Street St Germans, Cornwall

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