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Training scheme is no imposition

IN THE article headed "Training scheme under scrutiny" (TES Online, January 7) it was stated that "complaints also have been circulating about some local education authorities that are also providers. One example is the SWIFT consortium that involves 13 LEAs in south-west England, including Somerset and Plymouth".

This statement, taken in the context of the article, suggests that complaints have been "circulating"that Somerset New Opportunities Fund advice to schools "might have been a little bit too strong".

The article offered no evidence to support this allegation. But to set the record straight: We have repeatedly emphasised to schools that they have a choice of New Opportunities Fund training provider and, also, indeed, that each school may, if they wish, choose to use more than one training

provider.

We have writtento schools naming all the National Opportunities Fund training providers with approval to offer training in Somerset schools.

In November 1999, which was well before the majority of schools would have had the chance to select their training provider, we organised a well attended National Opportunities Fund materials fair.

All National Opportunities Fund training providers with approval to offer training in Somerset schools were invited (and most came).

This was a major opportunity for our schools to make an important, independent and objective choice of which company should be their training provider, and also a very convenient forum for a range of these training providers to publicise their training schemes.

John Freeman

Deputy director of education

Somerset County Council

Taunton

Somerset

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