Quango kills off La Sainte Union

April 25, 1997

La Sainte Union College in Southampton is to be shut down following the Teacher Training Agency's decision to withdraw accreditation from its teacher training courses.

A new college will be opened on the same site running only non-teacher-training courses.

The move follows two Ofsted inspection reports which found major weaknesses in the quality of teacher training at the college.

College chiefs said they were disappointed that the TTA had been unimpressed by progress made on a quality recovery plan.

The TTA said the college had not met quality criteria in seven key aspects of initial training, including areas that the college had identified for improvement.

Anthea Millett, TTA chief executive, said: "The decision to withdraw accreditation is never easy. But all the evidence in this case, which is not in dispute, left us no alternative."

Howard Newby, vice chancellor of Southampton University which accredits La Sainte Union degrees, predicted more closures. "It is becoming very difficult for institutions like La Sainte Union to create the financial headroom to invest in the maintenance of quality," he said.

The college had been placed in the bottom of five quality categories for primary teacher training created by the TTA.

Three other institutions, South Bank University, Sussex University and Westhill College, were put in the same category.

A La Sainte union spokesman said it was not clear how many of the 315 staff would go. The college site and building will continue to be held in trust by a religious order.

Over 2,000 students studying at La Sainte Union are to be "taught out" by tutors from neighbouring institutions.

Teacher training courses, which made up nearly half of the college's provision, are to be taken over by the University, Chichester College of Higher Education and King Alfred's College, Winchester.

Other courses, mostly liberal arts, will be transferred to a new college of the university to be set up on the La Sainte Union site. The new college will also take in existing continuing education courses run by the university.

Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "In medicine or engineering the accreditation of institutions is done by academics themselves. But the TTA is not a professional academic body, it is a quango that has withdrawn accreditation. The precedent it sets is quite unique."

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