Shephard to shake up teacher training shake-up

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The Independent Online
Teaching methods are to be prescribed by the Government under proposals announced yesterday for a big shake-up of teacher training. A national curriculum for teacher training will specify which methods trainees should be taught, what knowledge they need of a particular subject and how they should control a class.

Those colleges and universities which fail to meet the requirements will lose accreditation for their courses and could also lose funding if they are marked down by inspectors.

New rules in English and maths will be in place for primary trainee teachers from next autumn. Later the curriculum will be extended to include primary science, andEnglish, maths and science for trainee secondary teachers.

Ministers believe that too many schools are still using progressive teaching methods. The proposals aim to ensure that teachers are taught, for example, how to use whole-class teaching and phonics - deciphering words through sounds - in the teaching of reading.

The Office for Standards in Education will decide which methods are the most effective.

Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, said she was struck by the findings of an Ofsted report which showed that 50 per cent of newly trained teachers said they felt ill-equipped by their training.

"Over the last few years we have set about overhauling teacher training but, despite this, it has become increasingly obvious to everyone that too many newly qualified teachers, through no fault of their own, lack the teaching skills they need," she said.

Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, said that some teacher- training institutions did not pay enough attention to well-proven methods such as phonics. He said: "It is no good for colleges to rest content ... that students are exposed to some teaching, for example, of phonics." Teachers had to be convinced that such methods worked. "If we can demonstrate that children are learning to read more effectively through the use of these methods, teachers will recognise that their previous antipathy to the use of phonics was misplaced."

The Teacher Training Agency, a quango, is being asked to draw up tighter rules on training and to ensure that colleges develop more courses in specialist subjects. Inspectors have complained that primary teachers do not have enough knowledge of the subjects they teach.

Nigel Gates, of the Association of University and College Lecturers, said: "I am dismayed. ... Most of us are [already] doing what is in the document, implicitly rather than explicitly."

David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, said: "The Tories have failed the teacher- training test. They have taken 17 years to come up with serious proposals on what is taught in teacher-training colleges."

Reading: What new teachers should know

Examples of the "essential methods of teaching and assessing reading":

n systematic use of phonics;

n how to improve vocabulary and spelling so pupils progress from reading words to books;

n how to teach whole classes, groups and individuals;

n structure, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation of standard English. Pupils also need to know the alphabet, recognise letters; recognise how letters, groups of letters and sounds match; know how sounds may change according to the position of letters; and, use grammar to understand text.

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