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Exclusive: 'First knowledge-based PGCE' will be discontinued

Private university BPP has decided to close the course to new entrants next year, after it was launched last September

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Private university BPP has decided to close the course to new entrants next year, after it was launched last September

A private university has decided to discontinue a course it billed as “the UK’s first PGCE to focus on ‘knowledge-based’ secondary and primary school teaching”.

Five months after BPP launched the course with great fanfare, tutors have been told that it will be closed to new entrants from next year, for "strategic reasons".

A message sent to tutors yesterday from programme director Robert Peal states: "I am very sorry to have to tell you that the BPP programme will not be continuing next academic year.

"I spoke with the deputy dean of education services on Friday, and they explained that BPP had decided to withdraw the programme to new entrants.

"The current cohort will not be affected. They will continue to be taught, assessed and supported in the normal way. The deputy dean was keen to stress that this decision was not related to the quality of the teaching or materials (quite the opposite) but taken for strategic reasons."

Mr Peal apologised about the fact that one module, for which tutors had already prepared materials for, "will now not be taught".

He added: "I have passed on this news at the earliest possible opportunity, in order to ensure that you do not spend any more time (especially during your half term) working on the programme unnecessarily."

Mr Peal asked tutors to calculate how much work they had already undertaken so that "an appropriate financial settlement" could be agreed by BPP's legal team.

The message concluded: "Let me apologise again for this disappointing news. I was greatly looking forward to working with you next year, and am sad that this will no longer be the case. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavours."

BPP University, which provides law, accountancy and other professional qualifications, started its new PGCE course last September.

It was the first teacher-training course to explicitly align itself with the “neo-traditionalist” education movement that criticises “progressive” teaching styles, which often emphasise transferable skills, group work and hands-on learning.

Its programme director Mr Peal is a history teacher at the West London Free School who was seconded to the Department for Education in 2015-16 to support schools minister Nick Gibb with policy advice and speechwriting.

He told Tes last year that the creation of the PGCE was in response to a “surge of enthusiasm over the past few years for knowledge-based education”.

However, the move drew criticism from some people in the university ITT sector, who branded the claims “arrogant” and expressed concern about BPP’s for-profit status.

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