Supporters of “neotraditionalist” education are also usually advocates of tough exams, and the course billing itself as the UK’s first “knowledge-based” PGCE seems to want to walk the walk.
“Fifty per cent of the PGCE will come down to an examination at the start of June,” says BPP programme director Robert Peal.
He says BPP uses exams to award qualifications to the lawyers, accountants and business managers, along with other professionals who pass through its doors, and did not see why it should make an exception for teachers.
“When I was first meeting with them to talk about this programme they were very clear – if that’s right for those professions then it can be right for teaching,” Peal says.
He thinks the use of exams has the potential to raise the status of the profession. “We’re hoping as it develops it will bring with it some professional prestige that teaching is always looking for. I think having it as an examined qualification is one way in which you can do that,” he explains.
But existing university teacher trainers are sceptical. “Passing exams, I think, is a minimalist way of testing somebody’s knowledge, understanding and ability,” says James Williams, a lecturer in education at the University of Sussex.
“The fact that you might sit an examination is not going to raise the status of the profession.
“What raises the status of the profession is the acknowledgment by government, by ministers and the support from parents that the profession itself is necessary and important and should be well funded and should be listened to.”