MINISTERS are being urged radically to rethink their new standards for trainee primary teachers in the wake of a poll which has found that nine out of 10 training providers believe they cannot be delivered.
Universities say the 800-odd standards which new teachers must meet if they are to qualify are too numerous to be verified. They called on the Government to slim down or abandon the measures altogether.
In a ballot carried out by the Electoral Reform Society for the National Primary Teacher Education Conference, an overwhelming 91 per cent of primary providers - universities, colleges and school-centred schemes - agreed it was impossible to ensure all the standards were met for every student.
Furthermore, 93 per cent said it was impossible to provide evidence that all the standards had been met. The response rate was 51 per cent.
The standards are being likened to the national curriculum introduced in the late 1980s. It too had to be slimmed down after only a few years, by a commission led by Sir Ron Dearing.
NaPTEC chairman Colin Richards said: "We need a Dearing review for initial teacher training. If a course has 100 students a year, that means verifying 85,000 statements. Of course it's impossible."
The Teacher Training Agency has been monitoring the standards since they were introduced in May 1998 - its findings will be published next month - but says they commanded wide support when they were drawn up.
"The training of teachers is too important to be left to chance," a spokeswoman said. "The standards build on best practice and focus training on raising achievement."
But NaPTEC's concerns were echoed by Professor Mike Newby, chair of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers. He urged a "cool, hard look" at the issue and said the set of standards should be slimmed down to cover only the fundamentals of the job.