Training 'favours aspiring heads'

31st March 2006 at 01:00
Education authorities quizzed on CPD provision. Nicola Porter reports

An investigation into how much money local authorities pump into training and developing the skills of qualified teachers will begin next month, it has emerged.

Regional funding differences have been blamed for some teachers missing out on continuing professional development (CPD).

The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) has criticised government officials for failing to come up with a clear statement on how funds for teachers' CPD are broken down by local education authority, school and teacher.

Chief executive Gary Brace said Assembly government officials had yet to come up with the figures, months after the GTCW requested them. Earlier this month, he told the Assembly that consultations with teachers showed they wanted to see clearly how the money was worked out - and through which funding streams. They also felt that professional development appeared to favour those aiming for headships.

But officials say the delay is down to regional differences in CPD spending, making it impossible to arrive at a standard figure.

Jane Davidson, minister for education, lifelong learning and skills, has now put together a team to look at spending levels in every local authority. The investigation will take around two months and the findings will be reported to the GTCW. Figures published this month reveal that in the current year (20056), more than pound;38.5 million has been ploughed into CPD by the Assembly government.

It provides funding for general in-service training, induction, and early professional development for new teachers via the Better Schools Fund (BSF), part of local authorities' revenue grants. This year (20056), it provided pound;25m, with LEAs contributing matching funding.

Another pound;2m is available to fund Welsh-language sabbaticals for teachers, and pound;2.1m for headteacher training, including the National Professional Qualification for Headship.

LEAs can also allocate other resources to meet local training needs and priorities. And individual teachers can apply for personal grants and bursaries for courses from the GTCW-managed CPD fund, which totals pound;2m this year.

An Assembly government spokesperson said: "CPD spending on top of what the government gives as part of the BSF varies between LEAs, depending on local priorities. Extrapolating information from them for the exercise has proved difficult."

There has been long-standing concern over funding for teachers'

professional development. In a 2002 paper, the GTCW called for more focused funding ensuring all teachers across Wales are given opportunities.

It believes that some are missing out because of regional funding differences and the reluctance of some heads to release teachers for training - particularly in small schools. There is also concern that certain subjects are favoured over others.

Training opportunities for newly-qualified teachers and those striving towards headships are considered to be good though.

However, Mr Brace said good teachers with no ambitions to become heads were still not receiving the recognition, or professional development, they deserved. He also repeated earlier claims that there was still not enough funding in the system.

Welsh voice 22

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