New teachers to set classier standards

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Higher standards for new teachers, including the requirement to set a good example in dress and behaviour, were announced yesterday by the Government.

The first national curriculum for teacher-training students to be introduced from the autumn will prescribe for the first time what all new primary teachers should know and how they should teach.

New primary teachers will have to prove that they have a secure grasp of grammar, spelling and mental arithmetic. They must know how to teach the whole class and how to use phonics to teach reading. All teachers will need to show that they can keep order and set demanding expectations.

Entrants to teacher-training colleges will still need a grade C in English and maths and, for those born after September 1979, in science. But they will be expected to improve their knowledge and skills in those subjects before they qualify.

It will be left to teacher-training colleges to assess whether they are up to standard although inspectors will make periodic checks.

Anthea Millett, head of the Teacher Training Agency, said that it was impossible to know whether the changes would mean that more teachers would fail to pass their courses. "The majority of institutions will need to make some adjustments. Some will have to make substantial changes," she said.

Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, said: "Through no fault of their own teachers are being allowed to leave some teacher- training colleges without the essential knowledge to ensure that all pupils learn basic literacy and numeracy skills. This has got to stop - and it will."

She emphasised the importance of teachers as role models. "Young people are impressed by image. I think that if they perceive that a teacher regards his or her work as important enough to warrant smart dress and good presentation then young people will think that it is an important job," Mrs Shephard said. David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, said: "The Tories promised in their 1979 manifesto to reform teacher training. It is unbelievable that it has taken 18 years and seven secretaries of state to get this far."

Teachers generally welcomed the announcement though Rowie Shaw, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said it verged on a political stunt, adding: "There has been no conclusive research to prove that in this country interactive whole-class teaching is the one teaching method which will raise standards."

Professor Ted Wragg, of the University of Exeter's department of education, said: "This is banal and self-evident. One of our studies, showed, for instance, that student teachers are already spending half their time on whole-class teaching."

Leading article, page 13

What recruits should know

A newly qualified teacher must:

t Have a secure grasp of the subjects they teach;

t Stimulate pupils' intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm;

t Set demanding expectations;

t Maintain good discipline;

t Check pupils are making good progress;

t Plan and organise lessons well;

t Set and mark appropriate classwork and homework;

t Prepare informative reports to parents;

t Be up to date with research on teaching methods and subjects;

t Set a good example through their presentation and conduct;

t Be proficient in information technology;

t Know how to identify and assess children with special needs.