School helpers will go back to lessons

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The Independent Online

School dinner ladies, lunchtime supervisors and caretakers are to get specialist training in a drive to boost the skills of all who work with children, Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, will announce tomorrow.

School dinner ladies, lunchtime supervisors and caretakers are to get specialist training in a drive to boost the skills of all who work with children, Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, will announce tomorrow.

Meanwhile, teachers will get better access to on-the-job updates in their specialist subjects as part of Mr Clarke's vision for teachers becoming experts in their chosen fields.

The move will mean a massive expansion in the role of the Teacher Training Agency, which has spent the 10 years since its creation dealing almost exclusively with training new teachers.

It follows the Government's drive to give teaching assistants a bigger role in the classroom, though the National Union of Teachers opposed that deal through fears that allowing assistants to take lessons would damage children's education. The agency's remit will now cover assistants and all other support staff.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We will give [the agency] the task of ensuring a national network that will help teachers improve their classroom practice and get the opportunity to continually learn on the job."

Mr Clarke said teaching was now becoming centred on the needs of the child and the "right support mechanisms" needed to be in place.

The chief inspector of schools, David Bell, reported in June that interest in teaching as a profession was high, with applications for post-grad teacher-training courses up for the fourth year in a row.

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