Dozens of universities have warned that they may withdraw their teacher training provision amid fears that the government is about to introduce a new system of short-term contracts.
Some 35 out of 40 university initial teacher training providers that responded to a survey by the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) said they may pull out of the market.
Together they train more than 10,000 new teachers a year, representing at least a third of current provision.
The universities' fears have been sparked by the government's announcement in January that it is resuming its review of the initial teacher training (ITT) market, following a pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The review is being led by Ian Bauckham, chief executive of the Tenax Schools Trust, interim chair of Ofqual and chair of Oak National Academy.
The Department for Education says it will focus on how the ITT sector can “provide consistently high-quality training, in line with the CCF [Core Content Framework] in a more efficient and effective market”.
But UCET has already warned that the review could lead to a "strict and inflexible" curriculum for initial teacher training (ITT), which would "destroy the teacher supply base".
And now UCET says there are "concerns that a new system will be introduced under which a small number of selected organisations offer short-term contracts" to ITT providers.
Initial teacher training: important partnerships
UCET is warning that many universities might decide the market is “unviable” and withdraw both their own courses and the ITT support they provide to schools, colleges, school-centred initial teacher training organisations (SCITTs) and other providers.
UCET executive director James Noble-Rogers said: “We are concerned the government is planning to reshape the teacher training market in England with potentially devastating consequences to the country’s teacher pipeline at the worst time imaginable.
“It is absolutely right that there is regular review of all publicly funded systems, and there are few systems more important than that by which we educate new teachers…However, the market review of ITE currently being undertaken presents huge risks.
“There should be a proper call for evidence and it should be conducted within a reasonable timescale, when the sector is moving beyond the pandemic.”
In all, some 30,000 teachers each year join the profession through Initial Teacher Education (ITE) partnerships, and as many as 80 per cent involve universities through undergraduate and master’s programmes.
Stefanie Sullivan, director of initial teacher education at the University of Nottingham, said: “Well-established ITE partnerships, that understand their local context and the needs of the schools and young people in their region, are central to developing the next generation of teachers.
"As we emerge from the pandemic, these partnerships can support creative approaches to our schools and communities beginning their recovery and nurturing young people to move past the deficit rhetoric of ‘lost learning’ and a ‘failed generation’.”
The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.