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Education Secretary visits Bristol for teacher training insight

The Rt Hon Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, meets with trainee teachers in the School of Education Jonathan Bewley | PhotoJB

From left to right: Dr Alf Coles, Antonia Lythgoe, Prof Paul Howard-Jones, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds (Secretary of State for Education), Ruth Bailey, Jayne Prior and Prof Bruce Macfarlane Jonathan Bewley | PhotoJB

Press release issued: 12 April 2018

The importance of making teaching an attractive career choice and how best to tackle the challenges facing people entering the profession came under the spotlight during a visit to the University of Bristol by the Rt Hon Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education.

The visit was prompted by the Minister's desire to better understand how to attract people to the profession and retain them following recent statistics which showed teacher recruitment has dropped by a third nationally.

The School of Education at the University of Bristol is bucking this trend with an increase in application numbers for its initial teacher education (ITE) courses, which are ranked 'outstanding' by OFSTED.

The visit gave students, past and present, the opportunity to discuss their concerns around workload, increased class sizes, initial salaries and wellbeing. Although passionate about teaching and working with children, they urged Mr Hinds to cut the administrative burden of the job.

Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, said: "Hearing first-hand from the students and staff at the University of Bristol's School of Education was a great chance to speak to the future teaching profession and hear from those currently doing a great job in the classroom. The visit gave me valuable insight into their thoughts and concerns, including those around teacher workload which I announced last month would be my top priority.

"There are no great schools without great teachers and I am committed to making sure that we continue to attract the very best teachers to the profession and reduce unnecessary workload so teachers can focus on what really matters.

"As part of this, we have already set out plans to work with Ofsted, the unions and the profession to strip away workload that does not add value and have announced that there would be no changes to the curriculum or new tests for primary schools for the remainder of this parliament."

The Education Secretary also met with academics and partners from local schools who are involved in teacher training including Gary Lewis, CEO of the Lighthouse Schools Partnership, and David Barker, Head of Bristol Redcliffe Open Interchange.

Key to the success of Bristol's teaching training courses is its partnerships with local schools, many of which have worked directly with the University on a long-term basis.

Students also rate their learning experience highly thanks to the mix of training at the University and placements. Following graduation, 60 per cent go on to be graded 'outstanding' for their teaching.

Professor Bruce Macfarlane, Head of the School of Education, said: "It was a pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State for Education to the University. This is a challenging time for initial teacher education nationally, but we are leading the way in showing how to respond through enhanced recruitment strategies, working closely with our school partners and offering excellent training in subject knowledge and pedagogy linked to our research expertise."

Further information

The Bristol Guide - an essential handbook for educational professionals

The Handbook for Education Professionals: The Bristol Guide is an annual publication produced by the School of Education. It is written for all professionals working with children and young people. It provides comprehensive guidance about the English education system and the law  along with general advice related to education  professionals'  responsibilities, duties and rights.

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