Cut in secondary training places

Published:

Colleges in Northern Ireland are to train fewer secondary school teachers, with one in every five places being cut.

Colleges in Northern Ireland are to train fewer secondary school teachers, with one in every five places being cut. 

Places on one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses are being drastically reduced in recognition that there are too many qualified graduates competing for limited job openings.

The total number of PGCE places being lost this year is 63. All but seven of these are on post-primary specific courses.

It has long been argued that too many teachers are being trained in the North and many struggle to find full-time work.

While there are five separate providers in Northern Ireland, just two institutions have had their 2012 intake cut. Queen’s University will lose 35 post-primary PGCE places while the University of Ulster is facing a reduction of 28 – seven primary and 21 post-primary.

The North’s education minister John O’Dowd says there are too few pupils and too many schools.

Education boards are working to reduce the number of post-primary schools by bringing forward area-based plans.

The Department of Education says the cut takes account of the need to continue a reduction in training places given the anticipated impact of budget cuts and a Public Accounts Committee recommendation on the “oversupply of teachers”.

Other reasons include “the current position in relation to difficulties faced by newly and recently qualified teachers in gaining permanent employment; and the anticipated level of demand for teachers in future years”.

Dr Linda Clarke, head of the school of education at the University of Ulster, says the loss of post-graduate places is damaging, unfair and premature.

“Northern Ireland cannot afford this damage to teacher education. We cannot afford to take the high quality of our teachers and our teacher education for granted,” she said.


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