Bath scholars call for rethink on PGCE closure

Save ‘outstanding’ programme, university told

October 17, 2013

Source: Alamy

‘Highly regarded’: but PGCE ‘judged to be a poor strategic fit’ with Bath’s vision

Academics at the University of Bath have called on the institution to look again at the decision to close its “highly regarded” postgraduate teacher training programme.

Thirteen members of staff in the department of education are facing redundancy in August 2014 as a consequence of the decision, made in July. A petition protesting against the closure, organised by the University and College Union, has attracted more than a thousand signatures.

In agreeing a motion on 9 October, Bath’s academic assembly says it is “concerned” by the closure, adding that it wishes the decision to be brought to the attention of the university senate for “further scrutiny”.

Steve Cooper, PGCE partnership coordinator and science tutor, said that Bath’s academic programmes committee had judged the PGCE to be a “poor strategic fit” with the university’s vision.

This was in spite of the programme being “still judged outstanding” by its most recent Ofsted inspection and deemed an important part of Bath’s future plans in a review by Geoff Whitty, former director of the Institute of Education, University of London and professor of public sector policy and management at Bath.

Mr Cooper said that Professor Whitty’s review had found that the PGCE was good and that Bath “ought to invest in it”.

“He submitted that to the university and the university chose to ignore it. We feel we’ve been very shabbily treated,” Mr Cooper said.

He added that other reasons given for the closure, such as the programme not being research-led, were unsatisfactory.

“Ten years ago the university made a decision to appoint teaching fellows – we’re not supposed to do any research,” he said.

Mr Cooper added that the committee had quoted the impact of the government’s School Direct policy in its decision. The scheme has been widely blamed for some universities being granted fewer PGCE places. However, despite this, “we still break even, so we don’t cost anything”, he said.

Mr Cooper added that he believed Bath’s management “has taken against us” and was looking for evidence to justify its decision.

A university spokeswoman said that “appropriate steps are in place” to protect the interests of students enrolled on the PGCE programme.

“Consultation with the…staff who will be affected by the decision to close the programme…and their trade union representatives has taken place and in accordance with the university’s policies, attempts to find suitable alternative employment will continue over the course of this academic year,” she added.

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Reader's comments (1)

The meeting of academic assembly was not quorate – even the affected department did not care enough about this issue to turn up to the meeting. I think this is a shame, not just due to the loss of jobs but for the loss of academic and research opportunity, but it's also wrong to claim that the academic assembly of Bath demonstrated real concern. The real issue to monitor here is the process – bringing in adjunct staff to handle teaching the department does not want to spend time on, then making them redundant for not being academics ten years later, thus stripping the department of what could have been an asset. As universities make decisions about how to incorporate MOOCs into teaching, academics may want to remember this pattern.