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Teachers: Training

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families for what reasons mature students born before 1 September 1979 are required to have a GCSE at grade C or above (or recognised equivalent) in science in order to begin initial teacher training; and if he will make a statement. (154521)

All entrants to initial teacher training must have at least a GCSE at grade C in English and mathematics or have reached an equivalent standard. Additionally, those wishing to train to teach in primary schools also need to have a GCSE at grade C in science or to have reached an equivalent standard. This additional requirement is to ensure that non-specialist teachers who teach science in the primary schools have some background knowledge in the subject. This is not required in secondary because science will normally be taught by a specialist.

Since 1 September 2007 the new Requirements for Initial Teacher Training have applied the science requirement to all primary trainees regardless of their age because we consider it essential that all primary teachers must have the necessary knowledge to teach science to pupils. Prior to this, primary trainees who were born before 1 September 1979 were exempted from the GCSE science requirement because their school days would have been before science in Key Stage 4 became compulsory in the National Curriculum. However, as it is quite possible for people in this category wanting to apply for initial teacher training in primary to study for and pass GCSE at grade C in science or reach an equivalent standard before they do so, and in view of the importance of science teaching in schools, we decided that the previous exemption should be formally discontinued from September 2007.

The exemption was informally removed in October 2006 to comply with new legislation on age discrimination and in anticipation of the change planned in the Requirements. By this time the vast majority of 2006/07 primary applicants had already been accepted for, or had already begun, their courses and were unaffected. The main change will be for those wishing to pursue primary training from 2007/08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will assess the effectiveness of the on-line system used by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry, with particular reference to its effectiveness in (a) processing and (b) tracking applications. (155656)

The Graduate Teacher Training Registry processes applications for postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses in England, Wales and Scotland. Courses applied for are provided at universities, colleges and school-centred initial teacher training consortia. Applications are made primarily through an on-line system. Over 99 per cent. of applicants use the on-line facility but a paper form is also available. Applicants can track their application throughout the cycle, viewing decisions made by providers and updating their choice and personal details. During the 2006-07 cycle 26,223 applicants were accepted onto courses. The 2007-08 cycle opened on 12 September.

I have no reason to believe that the system does not provide a good service for both applicants and providers.