MP warns of 85% university training cuts

5th November 2010 at 00:00
Education budget blitz could make PGCE and undergraduate courses `untenable'

University education departments are facing budget cuts of 85 per cent, an MP warned last week.

Pat Glass, a Labour member of the education select committee and a former senior education local authority officer, said training would be decimated and schools' work undermined if the cuts go ahead.

In a letter to schools minister Nick Gibb, Ms Glass said both PGCE and undergraduate courses would be threatened.

She has been joined by the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), which is urging the government to treat training as a frontline service and to recognise its importance to school improvement and the supply of new teachers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has previously spoken of his desire to see the bulk of training take place in schools, with teachers learning their trade as a "craft" from experienced classroom practitioners.

Both Ms Glass and UCET have told Mr Gove that these changes would leave new entrants to the profession unprepared for the classroom and could lead to some courses closing.

In her letter to Mr Gibb, Ms Glass wrote: "Following discussions with a number of HE institutions, (I want to) express my concerns about reports that funding for (initial teacher training) in HE institutions will be cut in the comprehensive spending review by up to 85 per cent and responsibility for ITT passed to schools.

"At a time when a significant proportion of the teaching profession is nearing retirement it seems a risky strategy for the Government to be taking to cut so drastically ITT programmes and seeking to move the bulk from higher education institutions to schools, without clear guarantees that schools can and will pick up this responsibility. I would ask you to rethink this strategy. Such massive cuts will render many of the existing departments untenable."

Mr Gove has previously said he wants to shift students "out of college and into the classroom" - a move that would see funding re-allocated to heads away from lecturers.

Currently around 33,000 people train as teachers in universities every year, while just 5,000 train in schools. More details of the shake-up will be revealed in the forthcoming education white paper, due to be released later this month.

Ms Glass said heads have told her they do not want the responsibilities of training teachers and do not have the resources to run courses.

Delegates at UCET's annual conference on November 11-12 will express their concerns about training cuts. They want the relationships between universities to be strengthened, not broken.

UCET executive director James Noble Rogers said he will "hold the Government to account". He wants teaching to be a master's-level profession and an extended PGCE course to be developed.

TRAINEE TALK: Just 71% remain in classroom

  • There are 37,000 trainee teachers this year.
  • 80 per cent are studying on university PGCE courses.
  • Only 2 per cent will enter teaching through the Teach First scheme.
  • England has 33 such accredited colleges.
  • This year's Good Teacher Training Guide reported that just 71 per cent of teacher trainees in 200809 were in any kind of teaching six months later.

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