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Protests over plans to shut University of Bath's 'outstanding' teacher training programme

4 October 2013

Members of UCU at the University of Bath have today launched a petition to try and halt the closure of the institution's teacher training (PGCE) programme.

Union members also hope to bring a motion condemning the plans, and calling for greater scrutiny of how the decision was arrived at, to the institution's key decision-making body - the senate - in a fortnight's time.

In the summer the university put forward a proposal to close PGCE programme, despite a review of the institution's department of education by internationally-respected academic Professor Geoff Whitty, which saw the PGCE programme as an important part of the university's future plans.

The University of Bath's PGCE programme was rated as 'outstanding' by OFSTED and is financially viable, while the department of education as a whole runs a healthy surplus.

The university has used a change in government policy, to deliver more teacher training in schools, to justify its plans. The PGCE programme works with more than 60 partner schools in the region and most of them have written to the university to state their opposition to shutting the programme.

The union said there needed to be far greater scrutiny of the university's plans and raised concerns that the university has tried to rush through its decision because of the level of opposition from within the university and from the region's schools.

The university's academic assembly, which is the forum for all academic staff, meets on Thursday (10 October) and will discuss a motion* that condemns the decision to close the PGCE course. It also calls for greater scrutiny of the closure decision itself and the process that was followed to reach it. If the academic assembly passes the motion its representatives will take it to the senate meeting on Wednesday 16 October.

Steve Cooper, partnership coordinator and science tutor for the University of Bath PGCE programme, said: 'The decision to close the teacher training programme is not based on any evidence, flies in the face of an independent academic review and seems to ignore OFSTED's outstanding rating of the course.

'There is strong opposition to the move within the university and from many of the schools that work with the programme. We are unhappy with how this decision has been rushed through and hope to take our concerns to the senate meeting on 16 October.

'Other universities are not reacting to the government's new policy by shutting down entire courses and we hope academics across the UK will support our petition against the closure at Bath.'


* Academic Assembly is appalled by the recent decision made by the Academic Programmes Committee to close the Department of Education's highly regarded PGCE course. Assembly wishes this decision to be brought to the attention of Senate for further scrutiny not only in terms of the closure decision itself but also the process which has been followed to reach it which has created a high level of stress for staff at risk of redundancy and compromised the University's relationship with local schools and the community.

Last updated: 14 March 2019