He also announced new certificated courses for 'Specialist Teacher Assistants' (STAs) who will contribute to the teaching and learning of basic skills. The certificate would count towards entry to teacher training.
The Secretary of State will be writing to the Council for the Accreditation of Teachers (CATE) to request advice on the content of courses for 'Specialist Teacher Assistants'. Publishing the Circular 'The Initial Training of Primary School Teachers: New Criteria for Courses' Mr Patten said: 'This new Circular builds on the teacher training reforms already introduced. Extensive consultation revealed strong support for a greater emphasis on the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics. Also that there should be wider access to teaching for mature and experienced people.
'The development of the new Specialist Teacher Assistant certificate will ensure that those mature people who are already making a valuable contribution as classroom assistants can extend their role by receiving specialist training and gain qualifications to build on in the future if they decide to go forward to teacher training.'