General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

 
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Fast-track teachers still needed

29-07-2009

BBC

Some of the 40 available places for a fast-track teacher trainee scheme in England this year are yet to be filled.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools said there had been a lot of interest but only candidates of the highest calibre would be accepted.

Teaching unions have voiced concerns about the scheme, designed to attract very able professionals to teach maths, information technology and science.

The government said the scheme would be "rigorously evaluated".

The six-month course will start in September and finish next Easter, with trainees learning for just 10 days before going into the classroom.

The usual postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE) course lasts 180 days, and the fast-track course 120 days.

This new pilot course will be run by the University of London's Institute of Education.

Professor Dylan Wiliam, its deputy director, said candidates needed to have a good knowledge of their subject but they also needed to be able to communicate it well.

"This scheme is an experiment," he said. "If it delivers high-quality teachers to the classroom, I'm in favour of it.

"But we don't know yet if we can get people to qualified teacher status in six months.

"Clearly some applicants have been rejected at the paperwork stage.

"Apart from subject knowledge, candidates need to have the appropriate rationale for teaching.

"People who have a deep understanding of their subject can bring it down to the level of the students," he said.

"We are raising the bar for entry to this course - some applicants would clearly be more suited to the PGCE."

'Daft scheme'

The government announced the fast-track scheme earlier this year to try to attract high-achieving graduates and professionals into teaching science, information technology and maths.

The scheme is a pilot this year and will be evaluated by the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

However, teaching unions have been critical about the idea to fast track high-flying graduates through teacher training.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the scheme was "daft" but said she was pleased to hear it was to be rigorously evaluated.

"Teaching is about more than being good with numbers", she said.

"Teachers need to understand the different ways children learn and develop, and know how best to teach each child in their class.

"These schools will need help to support the trainees so they are not a burden on existing staff, and the trainees will need long-term support from their schools if they take up teaching.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said: "We are talking about a small pilot delivered by an extremely expert institution, which will be rigorously evaluated.

"It is not about any reduction in quality."

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