Letter: The right way to train new teachers to educate the young

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The Independent Online
Sir: The hostile reaction (report, 10 June) from a teachers' union towards John Patten's proposals for primary teacher training reform was predictably conservative and patronising. Its argument that at least three years' training is needed to ensure the academic, emotional and social stability of seven-year-olds in the classroom might be more convincing if that argument were consistent with current practice in teacher recruitment.

A postgraduate certificate in education qualifies a student to teach at secondary level. The course is for one year. We are, therefore, expected to accept that a graduate, for some unknown reason, can competently become a teacher after such a course, but when applied to non-graduates it is 'selling the profession cheap'.

While understanding that the position of the teaching unions is rooted in their desire to protect vested interest, it is initially difficult to rationalise why the Labour Party has also come out against the proposals. An opportunity is being offered to those people whose range of personal, academic and business experience and skills could broaden and enrich school life; people who perhaps have been unable to follow, through circumstances readily identified and empathised with by Labour support, the established route to the teaching profession.

Far from championing these people, far from supporting and encouraging a truly broad base of educators, the Labour Party is playing safe with the votes of teachers.

Yours faithfully,

GUY JENKINS

Torquay, Devon

11 June

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