PROPOSALS by the Department of Education and Science to end initial teacher training courses at 14 colleges and polytechnics would result in the total loss of two more Catholic higher education colleges. If confirmed the cuts at De La Salle Hopwood Hall in Manchester and Newman College in Birmingham would reverse the long-held view that a Conservative Government was the best protector of the Church-linked school system — the view much publicised by Dr Rhodes Boyson, the Tory education under-secretary.
For Newman College the proposals spell outright closure because it offers nothing but teacher training courses. Yet it specialises in a field which the Department admits is beginning to show signs of growth primary schooling. For De La Salle tbe cuts mean death by strangulation. Without initial teacher training the college would become unviable.
just one week before announcement, De La Salle received approval again from the Department although from a different section — for a new course in religious studies for teachers. This is a Manchester University Diploma course introduced at Hopwood Hall on a pilot basis last year and geared specifically, but not exclusively, to the needs of Catholic schools and Catholic teachers. Hopwood Hall also has DES approval and encouragement for a £250,000 building project, nearing completion, to extend the craft design technology facilities.
This is one of the teaching areas defined by the government as a shortage subject and one in which Hopwood Hall specialises.
De La Salle College offers main and subsidiary courses in a range of shortage subjects including mathematics, physics, chemistry, French. music and religious education. It is less than six months since a parliamentary select committee reported that there was a need for "more properly qualified religious education teachers and inspectors".
If Hopwood Hall were to close in four or five years as a result of the current proposals, teacher training in Manchester would be concentrated at Manchester Polytechnic, where there is little if any expertise in theology for religious education teachers.
If Newman College were to close there would be no Catholic college for prospective teachers between London and Leeds or Liverpool. An important factor in the representations that are to be made to the DES is the role these colleges play in their respective regions nationally.
The DES says it's proposals are based on the need to tailor teacher recruitment to trends in the school population. Last month it announced the number of teacher training places
David Browne looks at the Department of Education arguments that will kill off
for the next three years, after receiving advice from the Advisory Committee on the Supply and Education of Teachers (Acset). The Minister, Sir Keith Joseph, said then that he accepted the committee's recommendations over the three-year period for the growth of primary teacher training, but on secondary school training he had decided on a