government proposals to cut teacher training to just six months were condemned by unions yesterday as consigning the ‘vision of a world class education system to the scrap heap’.
The plans were unveiled by Prime Minister Brown in a wide-ranging public service reform paper called Working Together.
The paper also announced the fast-tracking of headships, under which someone can become a headteacher within four years of entering education, as well as the online rating of GPs, police, childcare and councils.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families said fast-track teacher training would be aimed at people with professional experience in areas such as the financial services or hi-tech industries.
Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, responded: ‘It sounds like an employment scheme for unemployed bankers’.
She warned: ‘We have fought very hard to make this a graduate profession and I have grave doubts that you can accelerate teacher training like this.’
She added: ‘I’m becoming very worried about the plethora of different gimmicks and initiatives the government is coming out with – this looks very much like back-of-the-fag-packet stuff.’
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: ‘Children and young people deserve to be taught by those who are in it for the duration, not refugees from business biding their time until something better comes along.’
Christine Blower, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Training someone to be a teacher in six months is an ill-thought-out scheme that consigns Gordon Brown’s vision of a world class education system to the scrap-heap.’
She warned: ‘To bring in an entry route that does not provide a good grounding in theory will not only undermine the status of the profession but will also jeopardise the education of our children and young people.’
However, Schools Minister Jim Knight said: ‘Some of our very brightest mathematicians have gone into banking and, if we’ve got an opportunity to get some of the best mathematicians and put them in classrooms, properly trained and delivering for our children, then that has to be a good thing.’
As well as the changes to teacher training, Working Together said a website comparing council services will go live in May and a national crime map for England and Wales will be online by the end of 2009.
From this summer, patients can comment on GP and hospital services via the NHS Choices website and childcare providers can expect the same via a website from early next year.
Brown declared he was launching an ‘information revolution’.
He said: ‘We are ushering in a new world of accountability in which parents, patients and local communities shape the services they receive, ensuring all our public services respond not simply to the hand of government, but to the voice of local people.’