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UCU criticises the University of Edinburgh over teacher education course closure

24 February 2017 | last updated: 1 March 2017

UCU Scotland has today criticised the University of Edinburgh's decision to close a key course training primary school teachers.

The university announced this week that its Moray House School of Education plans to close its four-year undergraduate degree course - a key route into primary school teaching.  The move means that students will only be able to train to be a primary school teacher by completing another degree first, and then completing a post-graduate course taking another one or two years.
The union is concerned that this decision has been taken with very limited consultation either with the education professionals involved, or with the trade unions representing staff.    The union believes that at a time when there are school teacher shortages, it is bizarre for the university to be closing degree programmes which provide one of the main routes into primary school teaching.
The union is also concerned that closing this course will substantially hinder access to the University of Edinburgh for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and UCU claims this move cuts across both the university's and Scottish government's widening access agenda.  The university claims that widening access is one of the key themes in its strategic plan but the union fears that cutting the undergraduate course and forcing anyone wanting to become a primary school teacher to study for an additional one or two years will put off poorer students.
The union also claimed that the decision to cut the course could affect up to 56 staff and put jobs at risk in the university's School of Education.
Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, said 'It is deeply concerning to see the university reducing teacher education courses without adequate consultation with education professionals and trade unions.  It is particularly puzzling to see this decision at a time when there are shortages of teachers in our schools. The UCU Edinburgh branch is calling on the university to rethink this decision, and to get around the negotiating table with UCU to consult effectively with us, and to enable us to look at all the options, not just course and job cuts.'