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Training under scrutiny

A formal evaluation of two pilot schemes designed to tempt undergraduates into teaching is being carried out by the Teacher Training Agency. Around 700 students have been through the Teacher Associate Scheme since September 2000. Another 300 took part in an undergraduate credit scheme.

Work is now under way to discover how many have gone into teacher training. Findings are to be published in the summer.

Nevertheless, a pound;4.5 million expansion of the schemes was announced in October with 3,000 students joining programmes run by universities, education authorities and action zones. They can use the experience gained towards qualified teacher status if they subsequently do a postgraduate teacher training programme.

Under the original associate scheme, undergraduates were paid pound;8 an hour, for a maximum five hours per week for 26 weeks, to work in the classroom. And students on the credit scheme received payments of up to pound;1,000, and were able to reduce the amount of time they spent training.

But doubts have been expressed about whether either scheme boosted recruitment. An evaluation report by KPMG, a consultancy firm, suggested that most students who took part were already interested in teaching.

One area involved in the pilots is the East Middlesbrough Education Action Zone. It offers 30 places on this year's credit scheme.

Of those already signed up, five had previously been involved in the associate programme. This involved students from the University of Teesside working with the two secondary and 11 primary schools. They helped with speech and language development in the primary schools, and GNVQ courses in the secondary schools.

Middlesbrough has also extended its associate scheme: 70 students took part this year, up from 53 and 45 in previous years.

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