Heads cool on Gove's pledge to shift teacher training into schools

24th December 2010 at 00:00
Most leaders would prefer new entrants to come through university route, TES survey finds

Heads are not won over by the Government's plans for more teacher training to be run in schools - and would rather employ those who have completed elite university courses, according to a TES survey.

School leaders want academics to get the money to develop the profession's new generation, despite education secretary Michael Gove's pledge to "shift resources" to primaries and secondaries instead.

A total of 58 per cent of those who responded to the survey said they would prefer to employ a university-trained newly qualified teacher, compared with 42 per cent who said they wanted someone trained in a school.

More than 53 per cent of the 616 respondents wanted Mr Gove to give funding to university-based courses, while 46 per cent thought schools should be given resources.

The findings fly in the face of the Government's policy, with a recent white paper announcing plans for more school-based teacher training. Firm numbers and funding details are due to be announced in the new year. Funding for the MTL (masters in teaching and learning) has already been scrapped and there are fears that the expensive four-year BEd could also be a victim of public spending cuts.

Professor Kit Field, dean of education at Wolverhampton University, said: "There is no reason for the Government to `fix' the teacher training system: the only motive I can see is financial. If you pass more responsibilities to schools, perhaps you will then get them to pay for the teacher training. Is this a way to make cuts? The devil is in the detail and we don't know that yet.

"University training is an induction to the profession, school-based training is an induction to that particular school. But we are not completely disheartened. There is an established relationship between schools and universities."

Of the respondents to the TES survey, 57 per cent thought PGCE and school-based courses were both "effective". More thought the PGCE was "ineffective" - 14.5 per cent compared with 8.6 per cent for school-based courses. A total of 28 per cent of teachers thought the PGCE was "very effective", while school-based courses were ranked as "very effective" by 34 per cent.

Allan Foulds, head of Cheltenham Bournside School, said he had "serious concerns" that the Government would not give enough funding to teachers to run school-based teacher training.

"There is absolutely no way, in a time when our budgets are falling, that we can subsidise teacher training," he said. "It is also clear that schools will not be able to run teacher training on their own. Trainees need a level of classroom experience and pedagogy. I employ people based on a judgment about their creativity and experience."

Heads' leaders said they were not surprised by the findings.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, said: "I don't know why university and school-based courses need to be set in opposition - both support each other. Trainees need to learn about the `science' of teaching as well as practical elements. Leading initial teacher training is not every head's cup of tea, and nor should it be."

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said the survey results were "very encouraging". "It shows schools value the established mixed market," he said. "The idea of a divide between schools and universities is artificial. Mr Gove wants to raise the status of teaching. He's not going to do that by taking universities out of the training picture."

Courses in crisis

Fewer people will be able to train to be teachers as the PGCE becomes the latest victim of the public spending cuts, the civil servant in charge of finding new entrants to the profession has predicted.

Graham Holley, chief executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), says his organisation is braced to have to make cuts to funding for initial teacher education.

University representatives have warned that this is the equivalent of slashing frontline services and could lead to teacher shortages.

Universities that run courses given poor ratings by Ofsted would be the first to experience cuts.

In 19992000, the TDA was given pound;230 million to train teachers. This grew to pound;777 million in 200708 and pound;786 million in 201011. In June, it was asked by the Coalition to make savings of pound;30 million. The agency will get its budget for 201112 later this year.

Mr Holley says the cuts will have an impact on the number of people who can train in future.

"We will have to make quite tough judgments about the number of teachers we can afford," he said. "We can't just carry on as before. We have to play our part in reducing the budget deficit."

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