Training courses at risk from Gove's axe

4th February 2011 at 00:00
Education secretary halves places for art and business studies

Dozens of teacher training courses are at risk of closure after the Government's "disastrous" cuts to the number of entry places, experts have warned.

Education secretary Michael Gove this week almost halved the number of secondary art and business studies trainee places, while places on music, RE and PE courses have been cut by one-third.

Courses could "easily" close as a result, leading to teacher shortages in certain subjects, according to the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET).

Mr Gove has increased the number of places on primary courses by almost 1,000 to 19,730, in response to the rising birth rate, but there will be at least 5,000 fewer secondary trainees from this September, down from the 20,000 currently on courses.

The Government's preference for academic "core" subjects is reflected in this year's teacher training place allocations. Maths places are unchanged, modern foreign languages are up by 7 per cent, and science and English places are down 11 and 13 per cent respectively.

However, business studies places are down by 45 per cent, art by 40 per cent, music by 31 per cent, RE by 30 per cent, and PE and design and technology by 24 per cent.

While university places are culled, the number of places on the elite Teach First course, which costs almost pound;20,000 per student, are being doubled.

UCET executive director James Noble Rogers said: "This could easily mean the closure of dozens of courses; many have less than 30 students and some less than 15. Further cuts will make them financially unviable for universities.

"Once closed, it's very hard to get these courses back, so this could cause problems when the secondaries start to experience the same boom in pupils currently seen at primary schools. We consider this to be a cut in frontline services."

Subject associations for art and business studies have warned that the cuts could make training "scarcely viable" in some areas of the country.

John Steers, general secretary of the National Society for Education in Art and Design, said: "This will mean courses will close, and the end to much local provision.

"This is pretty disastrous. This is to save a few bob, but it will damage the entire infrastructure."

Universities may resort to trading places to keep courses going. Huddersfield University has already "given away" its six history trainee places to another institution to boost its business studies numbers to 20.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "This will send us back to the days of boom and bust in teacher supply, which we have actually been able to avoid in the last few years."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The number of secondary school pupils is declining and will continue to do so until 2015.

Consequently, the number of secondary teachers required in these subjects is also declining. Our targets will meet the expected demand from schools for new teachers in these subjects."

BURSARIES - On the scrap heap

Bursaries for teacher training have been scrapped for all subjects except science, languages and maths.

Teachers who train in physics, chemistry, engineering or maths will now receive pound;9,000.

Those training in biology, combined or general science or modern foreign languages will receive pound;6,000.

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