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Threat to teacher tutors

A scheme that allows staff days out of the classroom to guide the next generation of recruits loses cash. Karen Thornton reports

MORE than 100 teachers paid to improve the training of new recruits are waiting to hear if they will keep their advanced skills posts after the Government withdrew funding.

The Department for Education and Skills paid for 228 advanced skills staff to work with universities, schools and others involved in initial teacher training.

But each post was only funded for a year, and around half of the ASTs have yet to hear if their local education authorities will continue their posts next year.

Sixteen have already been turned down, including Judith Allison, who faces a pound;2,000 pay cut this autumn when she reverts to being an "ordinary" teacher.

She remains an advocate of the scheme, and says her school, Broad Oak high in Bury, has been very supportive. But she is concerned about the inconsistencies in the way she and other ASTs working in teacher training have been treated.

She added: "I was enjoying the role, using my day-a-week outreach to work in initial teacher training. It was very varied, from being a link tutor at Manchester Metropolitan University to helping another school train their teachers to be mentors."

Dave Gill, head of history at Norham community technology college, North Shields, hopes that his LEA will fund his post - but is still waiting to hear.

"I have been in an inner-city school for 20 years. I've gone into Newcastle University as a professional tutor and put that practical approach - for example, in classroom management - into the training of teachers.

"I would feel very disappointed if it didn't continue. Other than teaching children, bringing on new teachers is the most important thing we do."

Dr John Williamson, director of initial teacher training and education at Newcastle University, who worked with Mr Gill, believes the scheme should have been funded nationally for at least another year.

He said: "It's been so helpful to have someone with dedicated time to give to teacher training. We managed before and if it comes to it, we will manage in the future, but it has really enhanced the partnership."

A DfES spokeswoman said it was made clear at the start of the pound;3.5 million scheme that AST posts would only be funded for a calendar year from appointment. She added: "We do not intend to undertake a separate evaluation of initial teacher training ASTs. Informal feedback has been very positive."

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