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University of Cambridge to stop initial teacher training if government’s ‘flawed’ review proceeds

The University of Cambridge has warned it is likely to pull out of initial teacher training if the government persists with “flawed proposals” in its market review.

In its full response to a consultation on the plans, the university’s Faculty of Education delivers a damning verdict, warning the shake-up would have a “detrimental effect on recruitment and teacher supply”, impact the quality of training and be damaging to under-represented students.

Senate House
Senate House

It adds that the timescale for implementation proposed by the government is also “unrealistic and unworkable” and called on the government to halt the review.

The withering consultation response - revealed today (Wednesday) - follows proposals from the Department for Education based on recommendations put forward by an expert advisory group led by Ian Bauckham.

It proposed changes to initial teacher training (ITT) courses, including new intensive school placements for trainee teachers, specialist training for mentors, fresh quality assurance arrangements, new accreditation plans and a demand that courses must centre on an “evidence-based trainee curriculum” with a “core content framework”.

As the Cambridge Independent reported in July, the university warned it may not continue to offer teacher training under the plans.

It confirmed that view in its full response today.

The university said: “While we support the objective of promoting consistently high-quality teacher training, we are deeply concerned that the proposals themselves would require us to adopt a model within which we could no longer guarantee the high standards we have achieved to date.

“The market review proposals appear to confuse quality with uniformity and conformity. We cannot, in all conscience, envisage our continuing involvement with ITT should the proposals be implemented in their current format.”

The govenment is reviewing how initial teacher training is delivered
The govenment is reviewing how initial teacher training is delivered

It warns the expert group had “very limited” engagement with long-standing successful providers and had supplied “a distinct lack of evidence” for challenges it identified.

And the university says the recommendations set out the equivalent of a national curriculum for teacher education that would “undermine the innovative and ambitious teacher education curriculum that we already have in place, lowering standards in the process”.

It is not alone in expressing concern - Oxford University has made similar points, and UCL and the Russell Group have also indicated their concerns.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Supporting our teachers with the highest quality training and development is the best way we can improve pupil outcomes, and we want all teachers to have a world-class start to their career.

“We continue to engage with the sector on proposed changes to initial teacher training and we will respond to the review’s recommendations later this year.”

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University of Cambridge warns it may withdraw from initial teacher training if government shake-up proceeds

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