pound;1.4m to plug INSET gaps

12th March 1999 at 00:00
COMPLAINTS that the Teacher Training Agency left teachers in a dozen local authorities without any university in-service training have forced officials to spendpound;1.4 million on plugging the gaps, writes Nicolas Barnard.

The agency provoked widespread anger among universities last year when it took control of the pound;20.5m higher education INSET budget and promptly removed funding from some long-standing providers. Universities complained that parts of the country had been left without training.

With grants issued on a three-year cycle, they feared it could be 2001 before the situation was put right. But the agency has now recognised the problem and used its reserve pot of pound;1.4m to target 12 local authority areas which lost out in the first round.

In all, 34 higher education institutions will receive between pound;9,000 and pound;148,000 a year for three years, restoring 83 per cent of the cuts.

Half the areas - Derbyshire, Kent, Merseyside, the Isle of Wight, West Sussex and Staffordshire - have seen their entire provision reinstated. Five others - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Northumberland, Shropshire and West Midlands - have seen at least two-thirds of places restored. But only four in 10 places in Hereford and Worcester have been replaced.

The original allocations - totalling pound;19m - were handed out on the basis of paper bids with the agency giving most money to the highest-quality applications. In future, inset will be inspected along with initial teacher training by the Office for Standards in Education.

Mike Newby, chair of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, called it a "shocking piece of mismanagement" and said the agency realised it had blundered.

He said the agency had also missed out the South-west - where he is head of education at Plymouth University - leaving only one provider from Bristol to Penzance.

TTA spokesman Stephen Hillier said: "The fact is that for a generation there were lots of areas that didn't have any coverage under the previous arrangements."

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