Classroom training scheme gets poor marks Poor results from in- class teacher training

School-centred courses compare badly with traditional college approach
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Education Editor

Teachers from the Government's new "on-the-job" training scheme do not match up to those on traditional courses, according to a school inspectors' report published yesterday.

Inspectors found that only three out of four lessons given by teachers on the scheme were satisfactory compared with more than eight out of ten on established courses.

Ministers introduced the new "school-centred initial training courses" because they believed they would end the influence of trendy college lecturers and make training more practical by insisting that trainees spent all their time in schools and none at university or college. Students on traditional courses spend 24 of 36 weeks in school.

The report says the scheme produces many competent teachers but fewer high quality ones than conventional courses. Physical education and technology were the weakest subjects, and some teachers lacked the basic knowledge to teach gym. It also says some schools do not have enough library books for the teachers they are training.

Of the six courses examined in the report, inspectors found three satisfactory, one good and two unsatisfactory. The two latter - from consortia of schools in London and the West Midlands - have since been re-inspected and judged satisfactory.

Michael Tomlinson, director of inspections at the Office for Standards in Education, which published the report, said: "It is a promising if mixed beginning. It is to schools' credit that so much has been achieved in a short time. The proportion of good or very good teachers is lower than we had hoped."

He said the school "mentors" who trained the students may have had too low expectations.

Around 150 students, about 1 per cent of those doing teacher training, were on school-centred courses in the first year. Last year, there were about 350.

The report says that comparisons of the new courses with established ones must be treated cautiously because a high proportion of those on them were being trained in technology, a subject in which overall teaching standards were low.

Schools benefited from the enthusiasm of trainees, the report says, but headteachers were worried by the pressure on resources and by time spent by staff away from teaching duties.

Mr Tomlinson said headteachers had reported no adverse reaction to the new courses from parents. Indeed, many had been pleased that their children were often in a class that had two teachers.

He said some students who would not have started established courses had been attracted to the new ones because they were close to their homes. But he believed the new courses would continue to be for a minority. "If anyone ever thought the scheme was going to be wildly different and that schools would not make use of people like higher education lecturers in training teachers, they were slightly off beam."

David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, said: "There is a very worrying 10-point gap between the proportion of satisfactory teaching on these courses and that on established college courses. The training of teachers is crucial if we are to raise standards in the classroom."

8 School-centred Initial Teaching Training 1993-4. A report from the Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools.