June 25, 2004
Buckingham University now does teacher training

Finally, a private sector in teacher training:

What business has the state controlling teacher training? Why do we need teacher training institutions? Shouldn't introducing teachers to their craft essentially be a matter for schools? Shouldn't the role of universities be confined to encouraging teachers to reflect on their practice and formulate their own vision of education?

Such apparently subversive questions are prompted by an approach to teacher training being pioneered by Buckingham, Britain's only truly independent university. The programme is supported – up to a point – by HMC, the body that represents the heads of 240 leading independent schools.

This month, 13 teachers, all mature graduates working in HMC schools, will be the first to complete Buckingham's one-year post graduate certificate in education (PGCE).

Okay, it's a moot point just where in the private/public spectrum your average British university is to be found. But this is definitely a small step in the right direction along that spectrum.

By the way, this is the kind of big media story I am happy to link to, obviously (as Alice Bachini would say). This is because, although it may be big media, the story itself is small. Yes, it includes some numbers, but they are small numbers. 240 heads of independent schools, 13 teachers, and above all, just the one university. Thus, the story is likely to have some vague relationship to the truth.

When the big media recycle the claims of the big politicians to the effect that this or that big number (concerning national exam results for example) has done a small percentage shift in the right or for that matter the wrong direction, I find it all much harder to believe in or to be interested in.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:14 PM
Category: Teacher trainingThe private sector