Trainee teachers prevented from rating the quality of university courses

Richard Vaughan


Students completing university teacher-training courses will not be allowed to take part in this year’s National Student Survey after the government pulled its funding. 

The highly influential survey is administered every January to gauge the quality of courses offered by universities across the country. The aim is to give prospective students a better insight into courses to enable them to make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing where and what to study. 

But according to a letter from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), the National College for Teaching and Leadership “does not wish to fund [initial teacher training] students’ participation in the [NSS] 2015”.

The letter, seen by TES’ sister publication Times Higher Education, adds: “As a result, these students have been removed from the list of students to be surveyed. We are asking institutions as far as is possible not to ask students on ITT courses funded by the NCTL to complete the survey.”

The decision not to include ITT students could be viewed as a political move, as the government has embarked on a move away from training teachers in universities and into schools.

Under School Direct, schools recruit trainees directly and link up with universities to provide out-of-classroom training. Trainees have an "expectation of employment" at their school at the end of their training.

Figures released by the government in October predicted the number of training places on School Direct will overtake university PGCE places for the first time this year. 

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet), said the decision was to be “regretted”. "[The} introduction of the government’s teacher-education reforms mean that there is a greater need to collect information about student perceptions than perhaps at any time in recent years,” he said.

One vice-chancellor, who did not wish to be named, told THE the “unheralded announcement, days before the commencement of the NSS and without any consultation whatsoever, is an insult to each and every” ITT student and called it a “disgrace”.

An NCTL spokesman said: “We conduct a survey of Newly Qualified Teachers each year, which is more in depth and specific to initial teacher training than the NSS.

“We have decided to focus resources on our more detailed survey, which provides valuable information about the quality of initial teacher training and how well that training has prepared NQTs for teaching.”

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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