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Planning begins for teaching institute

06 February 2015


Pilot projects: the Revd Nigel Genders 

Pilot projects: the Revd Nigel Genders 

PLANS for a new Church of England Institute for Teaching and Educational Leadership were due to be made public today. Writing in the Church Times Education special, the Church's chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that it would develop a pool of potential heads and senior staff for the 4700 C of E schools.

Behind the venture - the first national initiative of its kind, Mr Genders wrote, was the need to recruit senior staff who share the Church's vision for education. It would draw on the network of 11 Anglican universities and 66 C of E training schools that take part in initial teacher-training, and the expertise existing in dioceses and parishes, he said.

Planning has already begun for three pilot projects, in separate geographical regions; they are expected to begin in September.

The search for good head teachers for all schools, particularly primary schools, is increasingly difficult, recruitment figures show, but vacancies for church-school head teachers and deputies is markedly more so. Moreover, church-school governors increasingly report the difficulty of finding head teachers "who have a vision for education beyond the latest OFSTED framework or DfE initiative", Mr Genders writes.

Education officer rebuts faith-school charge. Secularists who believed in a neutral narrative for education that was distorted by faith schools were criticised by the C of E's chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, in a speech last weekend.

Addressing the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, Mr Genders said: "Secularism is not neutral because it is in itself a belief system. Our contention is that there is no such thing as a neutral education. Every school's values, underpinnings, and assumptions will be implicit or explicit, but will always be there.

"Whether we think about these and strive to hold a philosophy of education driven by them or adopt popular curricula resources, we will be conveying a message to our children," he said.

Teaching-trainer review welcomed by experts

UNIVERSITY teacher-training experts have welcomed the recommendations of the review of initial teacher-training (ITT) courses, published last week. The review was chaired by Sir Andrew Carter.

It did not, as many feared, propose replacing university-based undergraduate and postgraduate initial teacher-training with a wholescale move to school-based routes. Instead, the review emphasised the value of partnership between higher education and schools in the preparation of teachers.

The director of the University Council for the Education and Training of Teachers, James Noble-Rogers, said: "We are delighted that Sir Andrew Carter and his colleagues recognised the effectiveness of partnerships between schools and universities, and the important role they play in teacher education."

The report was particularly good news for the 16-member Cathedral Group of church universities, which between them educate two-thirds of all primary-school teachers, and 16 per cent of secondary teachers. The group's chairman, Professor Peter Lutzeier, said that the partnerships praised by Sir Andrew were at the heart of teacher formation.

The report's recommendations are in line with the Cathedral Group's submission to the review, which said that the university departments provided "a national system of teacher education, workforce supply, and training that would be difficult to replicate in a schools-based system". The universities are also likely to welcome Sir Andrew's call for a review of the effectiveness of the skills that prospective teachers are required to have before they can be accepted for training.

Coming so late in this Parliament, the report is unlikely to have an immediate impact. How far it will influence the next Government will not be clear until the allocations of 2016 teacher-training places are announced, next autumn.

Teacher-training numbers down. The latest data suggests that applications for teacher training for 2016/17 are significantly down on last year, for both primary and secondary courses. Those for RE are badly affected, the teacher-supply expert Professor John Howson told a meeting of the Supply and Training of Teachers Advisory Group at the House of Commons on Monday.


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