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Trainee curriculum welcomed

The introduction of a national curriculum for teacher training has widespread support among heads, especially in the primary sector.

Although most heads surveyed (83 per cent) said they were satisfied with the quality of newly-qualified teachers, there were a few dissenters. Jan Bradley, head of Pirbright primary in Surrey, was not alone when she commented that NQTs often needed a lot of support and more training.

Mike Redman, head of Cirencester Kingshill grant-maintained school, said: "We can recruit in all subjects but the average modern teacher entrant is not often intellectually as able as 10 to 20 years ago. There are too many weak applicants."

Mr Redman, unlike 81 per cent of the sample, does not think a national curriculum is the answer. He fears Government meddling.

Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, has already said she is in favour of such a curriculum and is expected this month to reveal more details about what she has in mind. Teacher-training institutions are to be ranked in league tables based on criteria such as OFSTED grades and job outcomes of graduates.

Mrs Shephard said: "A national curriculum for teacher training will hopefully ensure that all new teachers get the training they need. I am delighted that those who lead the profession are so supportive of the view we have and we will be consulting widely with them on the development of the curriculum."

The Teacher Training Agency is preparing to start work on a curriculum and a spokesman said the survey's findings bore out what heads have been saying to them. He said: "Heads say while they are happy with many new entrants they are often surprised that they are not acquainted with some methods of teaching. Newly-qualified teachers have also told us of dissatisfaction with their courses."

Labour's David Blunkett has also said teacher training would be targeted for reform if there is a Labour government. In a speech at the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers, he promised a drastic overhaul. "Teachers must be taught more about how to manage a class, including how to teach a whole class . . . Teaching the basics from the start must be the overriding goal. That is why we must not simply have league tables of the teacher-training institutions but a plan of action as well."

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