Gove serves notice on teacher training

19th November 2010 at 00:00
Next week's white paper will pave the way for biggest upheaval in decades

Michael Gove will announce the biggest overhaul of teacher training in a generation when he publishes his white paper next week.

The education secretary is expected to unveil reforms to the BEd and the PGCE as he looks for greater efficiencies in how entrants join the profession and moves training away from universities.

In the summer, Mr Gove hinted at plans to move teacher training into schools, with money shifted away from education departments and placed in the hands of headteachers.

He outlined to The TES this week that training should focus on teaching being a "craft" and said there would be more classroom-based training. At present, more than 33,000 entrants are trained at university and only 5,000 in schools.

Mr Gove said further details of the restructuring - which is deeply concerning to university education departments - will be unveiled when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills publishes its own white paper in response to Lord Browne's review of higher education at the end of the year.

But the education secretary said he wants to "improve" initial teacher training, with plans to "diversify" routes into the profession. It is understood Mr Gove is concerned that about one third of teacher trainees are not at a teaching post six months after leaving their training.

As part of the shake-up, the National College will be given an enhanced role, working with the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

Speaking to The TES, Mr Gove said the best teachers are those who are academic, but can also master the craft of pedagogy. "I call it a craft because it is something you learn in a work-based environment," he said. That doesn't mean that it doesn't require real intellectual accomplishment.

"Everyone knows there are bright people who can't teach for toffee, and other people who may not have been the most gifted at university who have the emotional intelligence and the spark to really engage a classroom."

Teacher trainers at university education departments have warned Mr Gove against moving training away from higher education.

Jeremy Burke, head of secondary school training at King's College London, said Mr Gove's position is an ideological one.

"After the early Nineties, the attack shifted from teachers to teacher training courses," Professor Burke said. "A series of moves were started in 1992 to delimit the role of universities in teacher training. It coincided with (think-tank) Politeia saying all you needed to be a good teacher was a good degree and a love of the subject," he added.

Just three days after coming to power, schools minister Nick Gibb is reported to have said he would rather have a "physics graduate from Oxbridge without a PGCE teaching in a school than a physics graduate from one of the rubbish universities with a PGCE".

John Howson, president of the Liberal Democrat Education Association, said: "Everybody is expecting an overhaul to teacher training, and university people are the most concerned.

"Perhaps one of the things universities have not been good at is putting the message to politicians and opinion-makers such as think-tanks."

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