The select few

4th October 1996 at 01:00
The shortage of applicants for postgraduate certificate in education courses in some subjects could be a result of more careful selection by universities and colleges. It is important not to underestimate the full impact of the arrangements which require trainees to spend 24 weeks in a partnership school.

I carried out research last year which demonstrated that the demands on secondary teachers created by the presence of a trainee are considerable. However, the vast majority have found it to be a professionally rewarding experience and are motivated to continue. Having a new face in the team, often with recent knowledge from a university degree, challenges both teachers and pupils.

It is quite the opposite when the trainee is unsuitable for teaching. In some secondary schools the possibility of failure is taken personally, so that mentors, subject teachers and higher education institution tutors have to find emotional energy and time from other important work to provide additional support. The cost of failure is high.

The strong message for admission tutors is not to recruit trainees who do not reach the required quality standards. For a higher education institute anxious to fill places and meet budget targets there is a serious dilemma. In theory if they become more selective, so the standard of trainee teacher should rise.

The challenge for the Teacher Training Agency is how to encourage those very able graduates who can excel in any career and have the potential to become excellent teachers, to choose teaching.

MARTIN BAXTER

Education inspector

London Borough of Hillingdon

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