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Training stakes raised

League tables of teacher-training departments will help decide which expand or close. Nicolas Barnard reports

TEACHER-training courses which fail to measure up will be closed - but successful ones will expand, schools minister Estelle Morris has said.

League tables of initial training departments will be published for the first time in September, allowing students to compare them.

Courses will also be more structured under the new national curriculum for teacher training in core subjects, unveiled this week.

From September, all trainees will be taught when and how to use information and communications technology in the classroom, including the Internet, e-mail and CD-Roms. The national curriculum for primary English and maths, piloted by some colleges this year, will come into force nationally.

The curriculum for training secondary teachers in English, maths and science and primary teachers in science will follow 12 months later - universities had argued that the timescale was too tight to start this year.

The curriculum is central to the Government's drive to lift standards of teaching, and comes as tutors complain that their academic freedom is being eroded.

Ms Morris said trainers could expect more help in addressing weaknesses identified in inspections. But those that did not respond would face disaccreditation. "There is no place in a world which is raising standards for trainers who cannot produce teachers that can teach in our schools," she said.

The technology curriculum is being introduced because of the vital role it will play in future. Students will be taught to use computers only when it helps them reach their teaching objective for the lesson.

It is being backed by pound;2.2 million to train university tutors to deliver the curriculum, and up to pound;1.8m for a series of intensive two-day courses for students at colleges which cannot yet offer it.

Two new ITT courses start this year. One is for trainees specialising in teaching children aged three to eight - "crucial for our plan to raise standards in early years," Ms Morris said.

The other is for teachers of 14 to 19-year-olds. At the same time, under the new secondary curricula, those training to teach 11 to 18-year-olds will not be expected to master the full post-16 curriculum during their training course.

One of the Teacher Training Agency's chief targets for the coming year is to encourage more teachers to become heads - particularly women who make up 83 per cent of primary teachers but only 53 per cent of heads. The imbalance is worse in secondary schools.

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