Non-graduate teaching plan: Patten proposes one-year college courses to train mature students as infant teachers

THE teaching profession should open itself up to non-graduates, allowing parents and mature students with three A-levels to train to teach infants, John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, said yesterday.

Launching his much-vaunted proposals for primary teacher training reform, Mr Patten said that colleges should set up new one-year courses for older students without degrees who wanted to teach nursery and infant pupils only.

Applicants should be over 26, with experience of working with young children, and they should have the academic qualifications - just below three grade Cs at A-level is the current average - required for university education.

Mr Patten rejected the 'too easy parody' of his new recruits by some critics as 'a Mums' Army', and denied that the new training course would mean lower standards. He acknowledged that the teaching profession was not suffering from a shortage of applicants, but said he wanted 'to introduce a wider range of people from diverse backgrounds'.

Primary schools will be invited to comment on the proposals, but the main teacher unions were hostile. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the proposals were 'underpinned by a false and offensive assumption that teaching young children is easy, requiring fewer professional skills and less personal education'.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the moderate Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the one-year qualification was a 'spurious qualification, introduced for no convincing reason', and accused the Government of trying to get teachers 'on the cheap'.

'I find it hard to accept that the difficult task of teaching very young children can be done as well by semi-qualified teachers as by qualified ones,' he said.

Other key proposals in Mr Patten's draft circular are that schools should play a more influential role in training courses, and that students should spend more time in the class, although the document does not advocate 100 per cent school-based training which Mr Patten was considering a year ago.

Students on four-year courses should spend at least 32 weeks in the classroom instead of 20 at present, and those on three-year courses 24 weeks instead of 15. One-year postgraduate certificate in education courses, as well as the new non-graduate courses, should include a minimum of 18 weeks in school.

Primary schools wishing to run their own training courses can apply for direct funding. Mr Patten said they would receive about pounds 4,000 a year per student teacher, which would be diverted from training colleges.

Many teachers agree in principle that more emphasis could be put on training in school, but union leaders said they did not believe this would be adequately financed.

Mr Patten said primary training courses should concentrate more on the core subjects of English, maths and science, and should ensure that teachers could maintain order and discipline in their classrooms.

He also proposed new courses to prepare specialists to teach their own subject to older primary pupils.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there