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'Twinning' to lift training quality

A new approach to teacher training could see the best providers being twinned with their less successful counterparts.

The move looks set to be a key part of the new regional approach that aims to raise the number of trainee places in areas where there are shortages, without compromising quality.

Traditionally, the Teacher Training Agency has worked out the number of trainees needed on a national basis with the best institutions getting the most trainees. But this has led to concerns over trainee shortages in areas with weaker providers.

Ralph Tabberer, the TTA's chief executive, said the agency would encourage weaker institutions to improve by working with better colleges and sharing good practice. They could then bid for more places.

In an interview with The TES at the end of his first year at the helm of the agency, Mr Tabberer said: "Up until last year we largely worked on a national recruitment and quality agenda. (But) we have become increasingly aware that quality and recruitment issues are regional."

Thenew approach has been welcomed by the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, which represents training institutions. Mary Russell, the council's secretary, said: "The idea of helping to improve the quality of weaker providers is something we have always urged."

A recent pilot project set up by the agency in the East Midlands revealed a local need for more training places in some secondary subjects.

Eileen Baker, a member of the agency's board and principal of Bishop Grosseteste college, in Lincoln, which took part in the pilot, said partnerships could help forge useful alliances - providing that they were not forced on weaker colleges.

She also backed the move to a regional approach.

She said: "The East Midlands is below the national average for the number and quality of secondary places. There is a lack of training in some subjects such as music."

"Unless you look at provision like this (regionally), then you don't see the gaps. This is bound to improve access to good-quality provision."

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