Teacher train­ing sys­tem at­tacked

The Church of England - - NEWS -

THE GOVERN­MENT needs to re­think its strat­egy on teacher train­ing to pre­vent a cri­sis, the Bishop of Winch­ester has warned.

Bishop Tim Dakin, the bish­ops’ spokesman on higher and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion, warned cur­rent poli­cies risked putting Angli­can uni­ver­si­ties out of busi­ness.

In an ed­u­ca­tion de­bate in the House of Lords, he said: “I am par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the School Di­rect pro­gramme. In fact, I sug­gest there is an ur­gent case for re­think­ing ar­range­ments around ini­tial teacher train­ing be­fore a cri­sis de­vel­ops.

“School Di­rect gives in­di­vid­ual schools re­spon­si­bil­ity for run­ning teacher ed­u­ca­tion.

“The school adapts the pro­gramme for the lo­cal needs and dis­trib­utes fund­ing as it sees fit, buy­ing in train­ing, some­times from uni­ver­si­ties, ei­ther as part of a PGCE or as a be­spoke qual­i­fied teacher sta­tus pack­age.”

He said that in some places the pol­icy had worked “very well” but the suc­cess was not the rule.

“My first con­cern is that the takeup of the School Di­rect pro­gramme has been rather dis­ap­point­ing, and raises the dan­ger of a dam­ag­ing teacher short­age very soon,” he said.

“The move to School Di­rect has been rapid. This year, the al­lo­ca­tion for School Di­rect will jump from 25 per cent to 37 per cent of all ini­tial teacher train­ing places. How­ever, last year it was widely re­ported that only two-thirds of School Di­rect places had been filled.

“This might not be par­tic­u­larly trou­bling had the core al­lo­ca­tions for ex­ist­ing uni­ver­si­ties not also been re­duced. For ev­ery School Di­rect place un­filled there is one less teacher avail­able in the class­room.”

He said the Govern­ment should “recog­nise that this pol­icy is sim­ply not at­trac­tive to schools in the num­bers they first imag­ined” and in­stead to free up sur­plus places at uni­ver­si­ties.

Bishop Dakin said the Govern­ment was also “jeop­ar­dis­ing the fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity of our teacher train­ing in­sti­tu­tions”.

“It is my priv­i­lege to be work­ing with the 11 Angli­can uni­ver­si­ties which ac­count for 24 per cent of pri­mary ini­tial teacher train­ing and 12 per cent of sec­ondary,” he said.

“They are enor­mously valu­able in­sti­tu­tions for our whole ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, and they see ini­tial teacher train­ing as core busi­ness. The School Di­rect pol­icy is un­der­min­ing these in­sti­tu­tions and runs the risk of putting them out of busi­ness.”

He added: “These uni­ver­si­ties main­tain and de­velop a mixed ecol­ogy of teacher train­ing routes by keep­ing open the op­por­tu­nity of univer­sity routes for those who are keen to start their ca­reer with the ben­e­fit of the high­est-qual­ity tu­ition and the widest pos­si­ble ex­pe­ri­ence of schools.

“To jeop­ar­dise these in­sti­tu­tions and all that they of­fer the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is surely an act of great folly which will not serve a Govern­ment com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing so­cial mo­bil­ity, but will rather pull apart the very in­sti­tu­tions ded­i­cated to the pri­mary en­gines of so­cial mo­bil­ity: ex­cel­lent teach­ers.”

He also warned there was a risk of “de­mot­ing the aca­demic rigour of teach­ing”.

“If we are to ask this of our teach­ers, we must pro­vide them with ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing,” he said.

“On-the-job train­ing is good, but not if it fo­cuses too heav­ily on plan­ning, mark­ing and be­hav­iour man­age­ment at the ex­pense of de­vel­op­ing a con­fi­dent un­der­stand­ing of ped­a­gogy and child de­vel­op­ment.”

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