Teacher training game 'may not be worth candle'

November 29, 2012

Government changes to initial teacher training (ITT) could create a “perfect storm” for higher education, a seminar has heard.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, said that uncertainty over whether the School Direct policy will work could lead some universities to decide that investment in teacher training is not worth the risk.

In a speech to the University and College Union’s Annual Seminar for Teacher Educators on November, he said that a combination of School Direct, a new methodology for allocating ITT places and a tougher inspection framework could lead universities to “decide that the game is not worth the candle”.

Mr Noble-Rogers added that if universities withdraw, it would mean schools have nowhere to “cash in” their School Direct places, resulting in a loss of quality training and infrastructure.

Under School Direct, the Teaching Agency allocates ITT places direct to schools, which select accredited providers - including universities - to deliver tailored instruction to trainees.

UCU research shows that ITT allocations at two-thirds of institutions will fall in 2013-14 as a result of the policy.

The University of Sheffield has lost more than 70 per cent of its allocation, with a 50 per cent reduction at Keele University, according to the research.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said last week at a Westminster Education Forum conference that it was “absolutely critical” that higher education institutions remain involved in teacher training.

“Whatever the route into teaching is, there has to be space to do higher order thinking about pedagogy,” she said.

According to The Good Teacher Training Guide 2012, published by the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Education and Employment Research, universities still account for four-fifths of teaching trainees.

“No matter how successful school-led training has been, it’s only provided one-fifth,” said Alan Smithers, the centre’s director.

john.elmes@tsleducation.com.

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