Week in perspective

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
The Government this week launched yet another attempt to attract more people into teaching.

With the recruitment crisis showing no sign of easing, ministers have committed pound;7 million to a campaign with the slogan "Those who can, teach".

They will be hoping that the adverts which will appear in the national press, on TV and in cinemas have more effect than the previous message that "No one forgets a good teacher". Despite the Government pouring millions into the campaign, recruitment remained stubbornly below target.

Teachers' leaders doubted if the new campaign would have much effect. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said he hoped it would succeed but said that the Government needed to tackle "excessive workload, low pay and high levels of stress" which put people off teaching.

But, according to the Teacher Training Agency, increasing numbers of people are giving up other careers to take up teaching. Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the TTA, said that the graduate teacher programme which allows career switchers to train on the job, is proving so popular that there are more candidates than places.

But he admitted that, despite the introduction of training salaries, enrolment on teacher-training courses was likely only to have "stabilised" this year.

The new advertising campaign was launched the day after the second national teaching awards.

Big Brother presenter Davina McCall hosted this year's ceremony which was held at the Dome. Education Secretary David Blunkett, who was among those presenting awards, said that the ceremony proved the Government's commitment to ecognising and rewarding good teaching.

Out of 150 regional winners, 14 teachers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland returned to their schools this week clutching their "Golden Plato" trophies, dubbed teaching "Oscars".

However, not all teachers returned to work on Monday following the half-term break. More than 500 schools around the country were forced to close because of the storms which swept across Britain on Sunday night.

The majority of the closures were in South-east England which was lashed by high winds and torrential rain. And in Merseyside and Cheshire an estimated 2,000 children were sent home because of flooding.

Scotland managed to escape the worst of the storms but suffered its own political turbulence when the new First Minister, Henry McLeish, announced a reshuffle of the Scottish executive.

Sam Galbraith, who presided over this summer's exam results fiasco is moved from education to the environment with former finance minister Jack McConnell taking his place. Wendy Alexander, who was previously communities minister, has been given control of Mr McLeish's enterprise and lifelong learning portfolio.

Mr McConnell who challenged Mr McLeish for the post of First Minister will also be in charge of the executive's external relations. He immediately pledged to work with parents and teachers to restore confidence in Scotland's education system.

The reshuffle did not stop Mr Galbraith being grilled by the Scottish Parliament's education culture and sport committee about his role in the problems which led to thousands of children being given incorrect or late exam results.

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