Universities bypassed as teaching goes direct

A university education department has warned that it may have to make redundancies as a result of government cuts to allocations of teacher training places.

January 24, 2013

Higher education institutions providing teacher training have taken a substantial hit to their allocations, with core postgraduate places for 2013-14 down 12.8 per cent from last year and 9.2 per cent since 2011-12, according to a Times Higher Education analysis of figures from the Department for Education.

The University of Sheffield has suffered a cut in places of 76.2 per cent over the past two years, while the University of Warwick lost 129 places last year - a 37.9 per cent reduction - as well as 24 in 2011-12. Fourteen other universities were subject to reductions of more than a quarter in the past year.

At the University of Cumbria, 177 places have been lost over the two-year period, with 148 being cut in the past year. Samantha Twiselton, executive dean of the Faculty of Education at Cumbria, said this would mean job losses in her department: “People will be made redundant because the numbers don’t stack up … We’re doing the final calculations in terms of the number of posts that we need (to remove).”

Sheffield says in a statement that the decision by the government-run Teaching Agency to shift more teacher training towards the School Direct programme - in which schools recruit trainees and then select which providers will instruct them - will result in a “significant” cut to secondary postgraduate certificate in education places at universities.

“Universities will still be called upon to support such training but will not take the prime responsibility for it and there is the real possibility that years of expertise and experience in centres across the country could be lost,” the statement says.

Dr Twiselton added that the new methodology for assigning places has hit higher education institutions the hardest.

Currently, only providers judged “outstanding” by inspectors are guaranteed the same number of places as allocated in 2012-13. Cumbria was recently judged “good” by Ofsted.

“We can’t be sure that (School Direct) is a sustainable model,” Dr Twiselton said. “Because it’s linked to employment, it’s going to vary enormously from one year to the next, particularly in more rural areas.”


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