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Training standards to be overhauled

The Government says it will streamline the unpopular teacher-training standards, reports Warwick Mansell.

THE Government this week proposed an overhaul of its much-criticised standards for initial teacher training, to the delight of course administrators who condemn requirements as excessively detailed.

Ministers have also moved to end the practice of good graduates being barred from the profession because their degrees did not include a national curriculum subject.

The proposals were unveiled in a letter to training providers from the Teacher Training Agency, which has been consulting on a review of the standards for the past year.

Since the 800-odd standards, which new teachers must meet if they are to qualify, were introduced in 1998, universities have complained that they are too numerous even to verify.

A recent anonymous poll conducted by The National Primary Teacher Education Conference, found that nearly three-quarters of primary training providers admitted that the sheer volume of standards made it easier to hide course weaknesses from inspectors.

The TTA told providers that ministers had agreed that the standards should be streamlined, resulting in "significant improvements in manageability for providers".

It emphasised that, however unieldy they might have been, the standards had contributed to improving the quality of new teachers. Some of the detail of the standards would be retained as non-statutory guidance.

Professor Mike Newby, chairman of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "We recognise that in many ways the standards have helped raise the quality of entrants to the profession. But they have also increased the number of students leaving courses.

"Teachers have had less chance for creativity, for thinking, for experimentation because they have to meet these rigid requirements. Anything that can be done to streamline the standards has to be a good thing."

The TTA also suggests that a stipulation that only graduates who were taught a national curriculum subject as part of their degree can enter teaching, is to be changed.

Ministers have also pledged to provide more detail on how teachers should be taught to manage difficult pupils. The move, which has been welcomed by the General Teaching Council, comes after chief inspector Mike Tomlinson highlighted worsening behaviour in his annual report.

The TTA plans to issue a draft version of the revised requirements in June. Any changes will not take effect until September next year.

Last Word, 40

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