Teacher-training proposals are greeted with scepticism

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The Independent Online
JOHN PATTEN'S proposals for radical reform of primary teacher training were greeted with scepticism by delegates.

Details are to be published next week in a draft circular inviting responses from all primary schools. Mr Patten said yesterday that the proposals would allow trainee teachers to spend more time in the classroom, and would open up new routes into teacher training, encouraging candidates 'of different background and qualification'. He said schools should play a much more influential part in designing and running training courses.

But although many teachers accept the idea of increased emphasis on training in the classroom, delegates were worried that the Government was attempting to whittle away the role of higher education institutions in teacher training.

Pat Partington, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, told the conference: 'There must be a core of practical work but this cannot be divorced from a core of knowledge about how children learn and how teaching can be made more effective - which must be the continuing role of higher education.'

Head teachers expressed concern that Mr Patten's 'new routes' into teacher training could lead to a weakened two-tier profession of graduates and non- graduates, with primary children being taught by the less qualified. Jenny Crockett, an infants' head teacher from Colchester, said: 'It's taken us a long time to get a graduate profession, and now Mr Patten is seeking to dilute that.'

Doris Rivalland, an NAHT council member, said that giving schools a greater role in teacher training could create the damaging situation whereby schools controlled the supply of teachers. 'Those in rural areas, or difficult inner city areas, could find themselves without staff.'