Skills, not cash, 'will make tough schools tempting'

26th February 2010 at 00:00
The TDA believes plan to give special training to teachers willing to work in inner cities can get the best staff into the most challenging areas

Teachers who plan to work in challenging inner-city schools will get extra help to cope with the tough issues they will face in the classroom, the government- appointed official in charge of school recruitment has said.

An increase in the number of pupils in urban areas has created an urgent need for a new supply of professionals, but they now require special preparation, according to the chief executive of the Training and Development Agency (TDA).

Expertise rather than money will tempt people to work in "tough" schools, Graham Holley said. He wants training schemes in London and other cities to include courses on issues such as teenage pregnancy and bad behaviour.

Mr Holley argued that this approach will get the best teachers working in the most challenging areas, and get those thinking of leaving to stay in their jobs. "We need to drive up the quality of training in all London providers," Mr Holley said.

"Trainees there need a special package as part of their course, but we don't want this to just be for new teachers. It's clear workers in the toughest schools need a different set of skills, and it's not financial incentives which attract them to work there."

TDA research on the "blockage" which stops teachers wanting to work in cities, or leads to them moving to other areas after becoming dissatisfied, apparently says they would welcome more support rather than money.

As well as the courses, urban teachers will get mentors and a chance to network with others in the same position.

Previous attempts to get people to work in challenging schools have focused on those who have left the profession. Mr Holley wrote to them all in an attempt to persuade them to return.

The TDA believes that it is cheaper to draw on the expertise of those who have already trained than to put those new to the profession through graduate courses.

"As primary numbers increase, we will be looking to people to return to teaching, and we hope to persuade people to stay on," Mr Holley said.

"The new Masters in Teaching and Learning will answer all sorts of these questions, and will help National Challenge schools."

More details about the new training will be finalised next year.

James Noble Rogers, director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said he would prefer the courses to be included in longer undergraduate training.

"There's far more scope to do it there, rather than in the packed PGCE," he said. "Issues like this are best addressed in professional development in the first few years of a teacher's career. That's when they actually encounter them and when problems are likely to happen."

The only existing course which specifically concentrates on training graduates for inner-city schools is Teach First, a privately backed scheme which gets those from the top universities into secondaries within six weeks. The TDA wants to keep training general, because all teachers need the same basic skills, and has no plans to run its own version of Teach First.

"It's a much more expensive way of training, and during a recession, where is the money going to come from?" Mr Holley said.

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