Trust halts Pounds 150,000 grant for training

Nicholas Pyke

The flagship school-centred teacher-training scheme based in city technology colleges has hit further trouble, thanks to the withdrawal of its major financial backer.

The Smallpeice Trust, a charity for young engineers, has decided there are better uses for the Pounds 150,000 it donates annually to the experimental CTC training scheme, set up amid controversy in 1993 by the then Education Secretary John Patten.

The scheme, based in consortia grouped around five technology colleges, was dealt a blow when its first two training courses were judged to be failing by the Office for Standards in Education. The then director of the CTC training course had earlier been replaced amid concern about methods for controlling standards.

One failing course was at the ADT City Technology College in Wandsworth, whose chief executive, Richard Painter, now heads the "hit squad" appointed to run Hackney Downs comprehensive.

The secretary of the Smallpeice Trust, Philip Goward, said: "The trustees have decided to withdraw the funding. This was a five-year agreement with a three-year review built in. After discussions with the CTC Trust, it was mutually agreed that we would exercise that option."

He denied, however, that the decision was motivated by concerns about the quality of training.

"The decision is more to do with the Smallpeice Trust's resources than anything else," he said. "The CTC scheme had operational difficulties in the first year, thanks to the speed with which it was put together. But so far as I'm concerned, the output of trained teachers has been excellent. The target numbers have been reached and the feedback from outside sources has been excellent."

The Smallpeice scheme is part of the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training plan (SCITT). Devised by John Patten, it was intended as an alternative to "trendy" training institutions, by enabling schools to operate as mini-training colleges.

There are now 19 consortia - the Smallpeice scheme, which trains only technology teachers, accounts for five. The annual grant was spent on administration and on additional bursaries for the student teachers.There are 600 places on the SCITT scheme, including 90 for primary trainees.

Kathleen Lund, the chief executive of the CTC Trust, which administers the scheme, said that the Smallpeice money was intended only for "pump-priming". She pointed out that subsequent OFSTED inspections found the CTC courses to be satisfactory.

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