I don’t often agree with current Government policy on education but on this one they’re heading in the right direction. I’d go a lot further. There’s many reasons for closing down hundreds of these PGCE courses.
1. Too small and costly
Some courses have as few as 10 students. To be precise there are currently 330 courses with 10 or fewer students. This makes them madly expensive to staff and resource. Even worse, these courses are often in close proximity to each other.
2. Supply outstripping demand
Demographically we need less teachers as pupil numbers are falling. There’s simply not enough jobs to go round.
The drift towards ‘University-led’ courses had loaded these courses up with irrelevant theory that has no real bearing on the practice of teaching. A good example is Abraham Maslow, a staple in teacher training, yet of no use to anyone in terms of what they’re actually asked to do in schools.
4. Delivered via lectures!
To deliver teacher training through lectures is pedagogically pathetic. Good practice is not taught through bad practice. It’s like teaching medicine using blood letting.
5. Third rate research
The only defense UCET (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers) and other trade associations like NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) have come up with is the loss of expertise and research. For me this loss is a plus. There’s far too much third rate research in education.
Teacher training almost completely ignores the radical shifts in technology and pedagogy, producing teachers who are ill-equipped to deal with technology in learning. These courses lock young teachers into fossilised theory and practice.
7. Performance-based assessment
There’s no better place to assess teachers than in real schools where they really are judged on performance. Far too many teachers have gone through training in the past only to find themselves unsuited to teaching in practice. The drop-out rates are unacceptably high.
The Graduate Teaching Programme and other fastrack programmes have clearly proven their worth. It’s time to recognise that this is a vocational qualification that could do with a lot less theory and more practice.