Teacher training

Teacher training ditched by unis with 90 years’ experience

Four providers unsuccessful in the DfE's market review to close PGCE courses

Four providers unsuccessful in the DfE's market review to close PGCE courses

7 Jul 2023, 12:00

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Four universities with a combined 90 years’ experience training teachers will stop offering PGCEs following the government’s market review of the sector.

The University of Hull, University of Plymouth and University College Birmingham (UCB) have closed their initial teacher training (ITT) courses for September.

London South Bank University (LSB) is to wind down its primary-only PGCE course from next year.

The four were unsuccessful in the Department for Education’s market review.

James Noble-Rogers
James Noble Rogers

James Noble-Rogers, the executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said the loss of established providers “especially at a time of serious teacher shortage, is a matter for regret”.

The impact on teacher supply in some areas “could be significant”.

“The government should reconsider its decision to remove accreditation from all the affected providers or reopen the accreditation window as soon as it can,” he said.

Hull and Plymouth are in areas identified by the DfE as cold spots for ITT.

Both offered PGCEs in primary education, as well as several secondary subjects that included shortage subjects such as physics and maths.

Universities without accreditation can partner up with an accredited provider.

But a spokesperson for Plymouth said it was “hugely disappointed” by the outcome of the review, adding: “The decision has left us with no choice but to close our PGCE programmes.”

Current students would graduate this summer as planned.

Course closures ‘concerning’

LSB – rated ‘good’ for its ITT provision last year – has also chosen not to enter a partnership.

It will run its final PGCE course between April 2024 and March 2025. It is understood that this has been accepted by the DfE because the course will begin before new accreditation rules kicks in.

A spokesperson said the PGCE was “highly valued” by schools, while teachers were “highly sought after” because they were trained to teach in urban primaries.

Until this academic year, UCB ran a PGCE primary education course accredited by the University of Warwick.

The course is not available for 2023, and UCB said students who completed its undergraduate primary education degree would be “guaranteed” an interview for primary and early years PGCE courses at Warwick.

But UCB would not be drawn on why it would no longer provide ITT. Hull did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

MillionPlus, which represents UK universities, said the PGCE course closures were “concerning”.

Rachel Hewitt, its chief executive, said it did “not oppose” the market review’s aims to “quality assure” the sector.

“But we continue to question whether the ramifications of losing these long-standing, reputable institutions has been fully considered, given the risk to teacher supply.”

The DfE was contacted for comment.

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3 Comments

  1. Sahmee

    Aside from the universities’ social responsibilities it’s hard to see why any run PGCE programmes at all, and if that is such a significant pull, then why don’t more go for it?

    Running a PGCE is *expensive* compared to almost all other programmes. The students are almost all home students and their fees are capped at the same level as undergraduates, which due to inflation over the last few years has meant a real-terms reduction of around 35%. That alone puts it in a dead-zone of financial viability.

    The PGCE also requires a completely separate admissions system to manage (recently switched from UCAS to DfE). The government has constantly diddled with that admissions process and is even more likely to do so in future now it’s under direct DfE control. All those changes add significant effort/cost/complexity.

    Running PGCE programmes also requires specialist administration because of the differences from either mainstream undergraduate or postgraduate programmes. It even has its own statutory return the university needs to complete annually, plus audits/accreditation as mentioned in the article.

    I suspect that most universities only run the PGCE because they introduced it back when that was a rational decision. Losing providers now is significant because the government will find it much harder to bring in new providers than 15 years ago. I’m sure they’ll justify it with some economy of scale superhub nonsense that denies the reality of real trainee teacher mobility behaviour.

  2. E Vine

    Teacher training and CPD: The whole issue of training and professional development needs to be reviewed and looked at from a new perspective. Talking to individuals who are recently qualified and in process of training it is clear they ways they are being trained takes no account of developments that are already upon us such as AI and the ability to step out of the current Victorian factory batch production model education system where learning is silo’d into teacher centred subjects and competing departments into the 21st century where learning could be interdisciplinary project based that’s individually tailored to the needs and development of the students. The new Head of the RAE recently blasted the forces that silo subjects in schools and set Engineering, Sciences and The Arts in deadly competion in opposition to each other citing the damage this poses to creative thinking and learning. Yet, there’s recently been a massively funded (£4.3 million) relaunch of an old programme to boost learning in the STEM sector. After talking to their delivery team I was left in no doubt they see the potential of moving into the 21st Century as a threat to be squashed and that they appear to be locked into repeating old mantras and perceptions to deliver messages, events and out of date ideas to students whilst refusing accept new ways of learning and evidence these work whilst simultaneously being unable to talk to teachers ( deliver CPD) or work in MATs.
    As Einstein said repeating the same failed procedures and expecting different outcomes is a sign of insanity.

  3. Jim Sidey

    If they paid the teachers a decent living standard salary they would attract top students to teaching. Simple arithmetic, low pay, low interest!