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Training agency fills its hot seat

Nicholas Pyke on Anthea Millett's appointment as the TTA chief executive. The new Teacher Training Agency has appointed Anthea Millett, a senior Government inspector, as its chief executive.

The agency, set up under the 1994 Education Act, will be responsible for handling an annual budget of Pounds 160 to Pounds 180 million to fund teacher-training courses in universities, colleges and those schools taking part in the experimental school-centred scheme. It will also commission research.

The role of chief executive had been eagerly awaited as it was thought likely to determine the ideological balance of the new agency. Teacher trainers had been alarmed to see its members include Anthony O'Hear, professor of philosophy at the University of Bradford and Lady Caroline Cox, Conservative peer and chancellor of Bournemouth University - both known for their hostility to conventional training institutions.

Ms Millett, director of inspection at the Office for Standards in Education, is felt to be politically neutral, and her appointment has allayed some, but not all, doubt. "We welcome the appointment and look forward to working with her," said Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers. "But we're still waiting to see how the TTA will operate." The TTA board includes no active UCET members.

Anthea Millett, 53 this week, is the second in command at OFSTED and was the insiders' favourite to succeed Professor Stewart Sutherland as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. The post was eventually taken by Chris Woodhead, formerly chief executive at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

She joined the inspectorate in 1978, having previously been deputy head at Tile Hill comprehensive school in Coventry, when she also sat on the Taylor Committee on school governance. Her posts as chief inspector included responsibility for special educational needs and secondary inspections. She also has considerable knowledge of education systems abroad.

This week she said that her priorities would include encouraging students to join the profession: "There has to be a positive campaign to promote education and promote the role of teachers." The agency will be keen to listen to the concerns of teacher trainers, she added.

It may reflect the difficulty of the task ahead that the job was advertised twice, the second time withan increased, performance-related salary of Pounds 80,000.

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