Relief as end of strike lets student teachers qualify

9th June 2006 at 01:00
Student teachers received good news this week when lecturers ended a marking boycott which had jeopardised their chances of gaining work in schools.

The vast majority of the 30,000 trainees due to complete courses this term are expected to receive qualified teacher status in time to find a job.

However, concerns remain that some students may have difficulties re-doing their coursework in time if they discover their marks are too low to pass.

Lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) had been refusing to mark exams and coursework since March in a UK-wide boycott of assessment.

The union called off its action this week after universities proposed giving staff a 13 per cent pay rise over three years and to look again at salaries in 2008.

Trainee teachers had feared that they would not qualify this summer, making it difficult to find jobs or forcing schools to employ them as unqualified staff, cutting their pay by a quarter.

James Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said he was confident that most institutions would be able to finish marking swiftly and let students qualify without delay.

Universities will now pass on lists of students they recommend should qualify to the General Teacing Councils of England, Scotland and Wales.

The GTC for England said that it would speed up its systems so it could confirm which teachers had qualified within seven days of receiving the lists.

A spokeswoman said: "Although we do still anticipate that there will be some delays in teacher training institutions supplying us with the lists, we hope most will be able to do so in time."

The GTCE said students who needed to retake part of their courses could start work in schools as unqualified teachers from August onwards, then receive back-pay if their training institution confirmed they would qualify by the end of October.

The end of the industrial action was an extra relief for Mun Y Chong, a 27-year-old Malaysian student who is completing a postgraduate teachertraining course at King's college in London. Ms Chong had feared that if she did not officially qualify she would not gain a work permit to stay in Britain and would be forced to return to Malaysia in October.

Some trainees may still face difficulties if they are returned coursework with lower marks than they had expected.

Kat Fletcher, president of the National Union of Students, said the union would do all it could to support students during a "very stressful time".

"While industrial action has been suspended, students are still experiencing serious problems," she said.

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