Education & Family

Teacher-training courses under review

Teacher Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption There has been a switch from university to school-based training

The quality of teacher-training courses is to be put under scrutiny by a government-commissioned review.

There has been an increasing emphasis on students training in schools rather than in university teacher-training departments.

Head teacher Andrew Carter has been announced as the review chairman, due to report back by the end of the year.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says he wants to "ensure all courses are providing the best possible training".

Universities have warned this review should not be a "smokescreen" for switching more teacher-training places away from higher education.

The independent review is intended to define "effective" teacher training, examine how the current system is working and recommend improvements.

'Teaching schools'

The government has promoted a School Direct system with an emphasis on learning about teaching by spending time in schools.

This allows schools to recruit and train their own staff.

There is a network of schools for training teachers - and there are plans for 600 "teaching schools" by 2016. Primary and secondary schools can apply for this status.

Universities are concerned that it marks another step away from university-based courses.

"Mr Gove continues to think that university education departments are the problem rather than a solution to ensuring that schools throughout the country have highly qualified teachers in the classroom," said Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of new universities.

"Universities will want assurances that the review will take a balanced approach."

The University of Bath and the Open University both announced last year that they would stop postgraduate teacher-training courses.

The review on initial teacher training will be headed by Mr Carter, head teacher of South Farnham School in Surrey, which has teaching-school status.

"There has never been a better time to be a teacher. There are more teachers in England's classrooms than ever before, with a rise of 9,000 in the last year, and there is no doubt that the current generation of young teachers is the best ever," said Mr Gove.

"While we have already taken steps to improve teacher training, including through the popular School Direct route, it is right that we look at how we can ensure all courses are providing the best possible training."

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