Plan to train teachers in class: Course set up by non-local authority schools is viewed by ministers as blueprint for future

OPTED-OUT schools, city technology colleges and the independent sector have combined to set up a teacher training course viewed by ministers as a blueprint for the future.

The two-year course will be almost entirely classroom-based and will allow non-local authority schools to take new graduates and train them in- house. It will also help unqualified teachers already working in schools to gain a qualification.

Launching a pilot scheme for the course, based at South Bank University, London, Baroness Blatch, the acting Secretary of State for Education, said she would like to see similar projects in other universities.

Government plans to increase the amount of time which trainee teachers spend in the classroom have already met with opposition from the teacher training colleges. They believe such schemes will be more expensive than conventional training and will not work because trained teachers in schools do not have the spare time to train colleagues from scratch.

Professor John Tomlinson, vice-chairman of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said the new course must meet national criteria and be inspected regularly. 'If all this is a cover for inadequate teachers who don't know their stuff to get qualifications, then sooner or later we will root it out,' he said.

Teachers starting work in local authority schools must be graduates with a teaching qualification. Grant maintained schools, independent schools and city technology colleges can employ who they choose.

The Grant Maintained Schools Centre, the City Technology Colleges Trust and the Independent Schools Joint Council have worked on the new scheme with South Bank University.

Susan Fey, chief executive of the CTC Trust, said: 'We wanted to take on people from business and industry because they had a lot to give to us, but we didn't think they should be thrown into the classroom without any training.'

The course will have 25 students next year but could potentially take almost limitless numbers by linking up with universities all over Britain.

Baroness Blatch yesterday dismissed rumours that she was being groomed to take over from John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education. Lady Blatch, who is standing in for Mr Patten while he recovers from viral gastro-enteritis, said press gossip about her future was the product of the newspaper 'silly season.'

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