pound;3m to ease training pain

12th February 2010 at 00:00
Teacher education given `transitional funding' to help offset massive cuts to student places

Teacher education institutions, which will lose pound;12 million in funding as a result of the massive cuts in student-teacher places next session, have been given a quarter of the money back as a cushion to ease their pain, The TESS has learnt.

But, of the pound;3m "transitional funding", only pound;2m will be shared among the seven teacher education institutions (TEIs) on a pro-rata basis; the remaining pound;1m will be distributed by competitive bid.

The institutions will be expected to use the money to deliver continuing professional development projects aimed at helping local authorities and schools to implement Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

Richard Edwards, head of the Stirling Institute of Education, told The TESS: "Curriculum for Excellence needs a long-term strategy, and putting pound;3m in one year into assisting that process may have some impact, but its sustainability is open to question."

He described the pound;3m funding package as "a short-term measure to help alleviate the pain that's been introduced into the sector", but questioned whether it would have any real impact on helping to implement CfE - particularly as education authorities would receive no funding for working with TEIs and some had no wish to do so.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: "In Scotland, we have a teacher education system that has some real strengths in the way we train teachers.

"When the Scottish Government took the difficult decision to reduce the number of student-teacher places this year, we recognised the impact this would have on the universities who provide the courses. That is why we have worked with them to provide a package of support to help them deal with the reduction in student-teacher numbers."

He said the pound;3 million package was intended to help them "retain capacity in the system for future years" and "mobilise the expertise that exists in our universities to help existing teachers prepare for the new curriculum by working in partnership with local authorities and schools on the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence".

As reported in The TESS last September, there will be a 70 per cent reduction in the one-year primary postgraduate course and a 40 per cent cut in the four-year primary BEd; the numbers in the secondary PGDE will fall by 12 per cent - an overall drop of about 1,500 student teachers.

The position was confirmed this week by the Scottish Funding Council and job cuts across the TEIs are now anticipated, despite the transitional support.

Heads of education faculties have also been made increasingly nervous about the the future of teacher education by the Donaldson review, due to report later this year.

One education dean said that, with the higher-education sector as a whole facing serious cuts, the drop in student-teacher numbers could not have come at a worse time. "Throwing the Donaldson review into the mix does not help," he said.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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