Training agency has fallen down on its job;Letter

13th March 1998 at 00:00
In relation to the recent allocations of in-service training funding by the Teacher Training Agency (TES, February 27), Anthea Millett is right to say that providers should not get funds simply because they have had them in the past.

However, any system of allocation must be transparent, fair and credible. It seems most unlikely that the best bids have neatly resulted in only one provider per geographical locality or that most colleges of higher education were not capable of submitting a successful bid. If rationalisation by geography or institution was the real purpose of this exercise, such a policy should have been made clear and subject to consultation.

The TTA has also admitted that allocations have been made on the basis of bids alone and are not related to the quality of existing provision or provider. Surely, funding changes should be related to public measures of quality as is done for initial training.

Unsuccessful bidders will now have to review their INSET work. Some may also feel that this loss of funding will have an impact on their capacity to support shortage secondary subject courses which do not recruit well, thus worsening the supply of teachers.

However, the most serious consequences of this process will fall on teachers and schools. There will indeed be areas of the country where teachers will not now have ready access to INSET, particularly since the Open University will no longer be receiving new funding. In others there will now be no choice of course or institution. The continuum of partnership between initial training and INSET will be undermined and we will particularly lose the expertise of many unsuccessful bidders in the areas of primary, early years and special education, despite these being government priorities.

I have generally supported the TTA as the best way of developing a coherent approach to teacher supply and professional development. Sadly, I now feel we need a major public review of the way it conducts its business. Above all we need a general teaching council which would work in a much more considered manner and in genuine partnership with schools, local authorities and higher education.

HAZEL BINES

Assistant dean University of Northumbria Newcastle Upon Tyne School management, page 31

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