The University of Cambridge prepares around 300 new teachers to enter the profession every year, many in priority subject areas such as STEM disciplines.

Our PGCE courses have repeatedly been rated ‘outstanding’ by different reviewers, across multiple inspection frameworks. These assessments consistently highlight our close partnership with more than 250 state schools, where our trainees spend the large majority of their course; our ambitious curriculum which draws on our expertise as a world-leading centre for education research; and our team of teacher-educators, who have decades of experience in teaching and training.

We support this review’s objective of promoting consistently high-quality teacher training, but we are deeply concerned that the proposals themselves would require us to adopt a model within which we could no longer guarantee the high standards we have achieved to date. 

There are a number of reasons for this, but in particular, the single model of training proposed would obstruct our delivery of a flexible, highly-personalised, innovative curriculum, responsive to trainees’ and schools’ needs and based on the best available research. The evidence overwhelmingly shows there is no single ‘right’ way to train teachers to work in diverse settings and to support pupils with different needs. The proposals could erode long-standing partnerships with, and create a number of serious challenges for, partner schools who have themselves contributed to and greatly enriched the design of our programmes for trainees. In addition, the distinction made between accredited providers and delivery partners poses serious challenges. These, and several other specific concerns will be reflected in more detail in our response to the consultation.

The University cannot in all good faith accept or offer aspiring teachers a programme that would lower standards in this way. Now, more than ever, children need teachers of the highest possible quality. These recommendations would compromise the essential characteristics of programmes such as ours, which are already producing outstanding teachers, year after year.

We recognise that these are only recommendations. Were they to be implemented, however, then with great regret we would see little option but to review the viability of Initial Teacher Education at the University of Cambridge. We have therefore asked the Government to adjust the proposals to accommodate the continued delivery of University-based PGCE courses. Programmes such as ours are already providing new teachers with the very best education, training and development opportunities and, through them, shaping the education of countless children for the better. We very much hope that the Government will take the necessary steps to allow us to continue to do so.

Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education
Professor Susan Robertson, Head of the Faculty of Education

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