Stringent training standards unveiled
Students wishing to teach English, maths or science in secondary schools south of the border will have to meet exacting standards before they can be let loose in the classroom.
The second instalment of the national curriculum for trainee teachers sets out what students should know about their subject, together with explicit instructions about what they should be taught to teach (see box left).
The proposals from the Teacher Training Agency will now be sent out for consultation until April 3, and the curriculum will be enforced from September.
Trainees must also have a more thorough grounding in information technology; currently many teachers feel less confident on computers than their pupils. Students must be shown the revolutionary potential of IT as a teaching tool.
The first part of the national curriculum, which covered primary English and maths, was launched in February 1997 by the Tory education secretary Gillian Shephard. She presented it as part of a drive to shake up the educational establishment and kill off "trendy" teaching methods. While universities and colleges found the contents unexceptionable, many academics were infuriated by a Government quango dictating what universities should teach.
This Government has allowed curriculum development to continue, but avoided a fanfare launch in the hope that the concept of a training curriculum has been accepted.
However, Liberal Democrat education spokesman Don Foster wants to amend the Teaching and Higher Education Bill to make sure the curriculum does not apply to undergraduate BEd courses.
The Liberal Democrats did not, Mr Foster said, object to the TTA's dictating the content of "postgraduate, vocational courses" such as the postgraduate certificate in education, "but the BEd course is a mix of academic and vocational elements, so it is possible that the imposition of a national curriculum is encroaching on academic freedom".
The curriculum has already provoked protest from academics who say that their recommendations on science have been ignored.
WHAT THE CURRICULUM PROPOSES
Recruits must have: a firm grasp of grammar, punctuation, textual analysis, the history of the language, knowledge of "key authors from the English literary heritage", standard English. If they don't, the course tutors will have to ensure that they are brought up to scratch. Trainees on 11-18 courses must "as a minimum" be able to teach national curriculum English at key stage 3 and key stage 4, plus either A-level English language or literature.
Students will also have to show that they can teach poetical forms and terminology, including metre, simile, metaphor, oxymoron, assonance, alliteration, sonnets and ballads; Shakespeare - language, dramatisation and historical context; spelling, techniques in writing for particular purposes - the difference between informative, polemical and analytical writing; punctuation, grammar and oral communication.
Recruits must have a secure understanding of the nature of science, its terminology, and how different areas of science relate to each other. The curriculum also includes scientific principles that those intending to teach to A-level must understand - student biology teachers, for example, must show that they understand cellular processes, genetics and ecological principles to degree level. Universities must remedy any deficiencies. Students on 11-18 courses must be able to teach the national curriculum science at KS3, two GCSE science specialisms chosen from biology, chemistry or physics, and one science subject at A-level.
All trainees must be able to teach all national curriculum maths at KS3 and KS4, including the "further material", plus the A-level core, which specifies that students should understand the nature of proof, techniques of algebra and calculus, geometry, and the analysis of processes. Students must know how to measure their own pupils' progress, and there is a clear specification of the subject knowledge they will need to teach effectively.
Every trainee teacher must be equipped with the ability to make sound decisions about how to use IT and to understand its potential. Course tutors must show students how to use IT effectively in their particular subject, rather than simply giving them general computing skills. Trainees must also be shown where the use of IT would be inappropriate and how IT can help special needs pupils.