GOVERNMENT initiatives to shift responsibility for training
teachers to schools were likely to undermine university education
departments, damage the quality of teacher education, and lead to a
shortage of teachers, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Timothy
Dakin (above), told the Lords earlier this month.
The 11 Anglican universities - which train one in four of all
primary teachers in England and 12 per cent of secondary teachers -
would be among the hardest hit, said Bishop Dakin, who is the
Church of England's Parliamentary spokesman on higher education. He
was speaking during a debate on education and social mobility.
Bishop Dakin focused his criticisms on the Government's Schools
Direct programme. "The take-up has been disappointing, and raises
the danger of a damaging teacher-shortage very soon," he
While the allocation of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) places to
the programme was to rise to 37 per cent this year, the core
allocations to universities had been reduced, he said. "For every
Schools Direct place left unfilled, there is one less teacher
available in the classroom."
Many areas are experiencing high pressure on places, which would
soon flow into secondary schools. "This is not the time to
pressurise schools to take on training responsibilities, when many
are desperate for new teachers," he said.
The move to school-based teacher training was already
undermining the Anglican universities, which had almost 200 years'
experience of educating teachers; the policy risked "putting them
out of business", he said.
While universities were involved to some extent in school-based
training, they received reduced funding for each student, and had
to negotiate contracts on a yearly basis that made long-term
strategic planning almost impossible. Moreover, the policy ran the
risk of demoting the academic rigour of teaching that underpinned
its practice, Bishop Dakin said.
"Without a strong cohort of excellent teachers, we cannot hope
to inspire disadvantaged young people with the confidence to
contribute to society. . . It is from this perspective that I
question whether the Government's policies for improving the
quality of teaching have been fully effective and will enable
Responding, the Education Minister in the Lords, Lord Nash, said
that 71 per cent of Schools Direct places had been allocated to
schools working with a university provider. "We believe that we
need to create other training options and that competition will
improve the situation."
THE Church of England Central Education Trust (CECET), a
new organisation that will take responsibility for the standards
and management of 265 church schools in the Midlands, was launched
on Tuesday, writes Margaret Holness.
The first of its kind in the country, the joint venture
between Birmingham and Lichfield dioceses and the University of
Wolverhampton is likely to be the template for similar regional
The two dioceses hope that by pooling resources they can
better provide schools with the expertise and support formerly
provided by local authorities. Since 2010, the part played by the
latter in education has been progressively weakened by government
The Trust's structure has been designed to allow other
Midlands dioceses to join the alliance, the director of education
for Lichfield diocese, Colin Hopkins, said. "As CECET grows, its
capacity to raise standards will increase."
Seen as a response to the report The Church
School of the Future, the initiative has strong backing from
the Department for Education, which has made a substantial
contribution to start-up costs. Senior civil servants, including
the deputy director of the department's academy programme, Colin
Diamond, attended Tuesday's launch.
An "umbrella trust", CECET will have overarching
accountability for the academies within its remit. It will have
strong powers of intervention over all member schools, forcing
weaker schools to accept support in raising standards. It will also
encourage schools to form close partnerships, and share expertise
"Unlike some academy chains, a majority of the Trust's
schools are already graded 'outstanding' or 'good'. Our minimum
goal is 'good' rating for all our schools," Mr Hopkins