Back to School Teachers; EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

By Ryan, Conor | Daily Mail (London), August 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Back to School Teachers; EDUCATION NOTEBOOK


Ryan, Conor, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: CONOR RYAN

ONE OFTEN hears complaints from heads that training colleges do not prepare teachers properly for the classroom. Teachers, they say, spend too much time learning the theory of teaching, but get too little real teaching practice.

Around 35,000 people train to be teachers every year, many now trained by schools themselves. And from September, 130 secondary schools and 38 primary schools will get up to [pounds sterling]65,000 a year more to give student teachers more opportunity to see good teaching in the classroom.

Birkdale High School, in Southport on Merseyside, has been designated a 'training school' by the Government and runs courses for trainee English teachers at Edge Hill University College.

'It gives us much more input into training teachers of the future,' says Graham Fletcher, head of English, who also manages the programme. 'We also get a good view of potential teachers and can better assess what they are actually like in the classroom.' After college tutors have gone home, experienced teachers are still on hand between 4pm and 6pm, three evenings a week, to help and advise students through an online chatroom.

'When we started the chatroom, one trainee asked for help preparing a lesson for the following day on the iambic pentameter in Shakespeare's The Tempest,' Mr Fletcher recalls. 'We knew we were in for a long session when she admitted she didn't know what an iambic pentameter was.' (It is the most common rhythm in English verse.) Birkdale also allows trainees to hear live video lectures from leading examiners in other parts of the country.

'Next year we hope to set up a system under which trainees can observe classes from their lecture halls and can watch each other actually teaching without having to crowd into the classroom,' Mr Fletcher says.

But other students do all their training in the classroom through the Graduate Teacher Programme. The programme, which has 3,400 trainees, is expected to offer 4,750 places to mature entrants from September.

Students earn [pounds sterling]13,000 a year while training and are attached to schools for a year.

While schools benefit from more mature teachers, the programme also offers headteachers the opportunity better to prepare potential staff for the rigours of the classroom.

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