Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Closure Is on the Cards for Hundreds of PGCE Courses: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Closure Is on the Cards for Hundreds of PGCE Courses: News

Article excerpt

Those with just a few students are 'potentially unviable'.

More than 300 PGCE courses are at risk of closure after civil servants decided they are "potentially unviable", universities have been told.

Academics say they have serious concerns about the decision by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) that could lead to courses with small numbers of students being shut. The identified courses, which all have a maximum of 10 places, could be dropped from 2013, raising fears that expertise will be lost and that parts of England will be left without training provision in some subjects.

Education secretary Michael Gove has cut the overall number of places on secondary PGCE courses because of falling pupil numbers and the policy of schools taking on a greater role in training new teachers. This has led to at least 332 courses being allocated 10 places or fewer, particularly in subjects that do not form part of the English Baccalaureate, such as music, art and design and technology. In future, only school-based courses will be allowed to run with small numbers, universities were told in guidance distributed by the TDA.

Some smaller courses "have been identified as potentially unviable due to their small size", according to the agency. The "re-engineering" of allocations means there is "no guarantee" universities will be allocated places in small cohorts from 2013-14 onwards.

"Whilst we have allocated places at this level for 2012-13, we do not see this as a sustainable position in the long term as the current pressures of falling secondary targets and concentration of provision in school-led provision will intensify," the guidance states.

TDA officials believe universities will make "independent assessments of their own position and consider their participation in their current spread of subjects in 2012-13". "We anticipate a period of volatility in allocations as providers make these decisions," the guidance says.

The average size of a secondary PGCE course has been falling - it was between 23 and 25 places in 2000-01, but will drop to below 14 this year. The TDA confirmed that the future of some larger courses may also be reviewed.

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said putting courses under threat of closure was "destabilising" and was a "big concern" after cuts to allocations this year. …

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