New ‘university training’ primary school to open in Cambridge

Amy Provan 3 February 2014

The Department of Education has granted permission for the University of Cambridge to open a primary school, which will provide teaching for children from the age of 4. It is the second confirmed ‘university training school’, and the first to open to primary age students.

The first priority of the school will be to deliver high-quality education to its pupils, using research-based exemplary teaching and learning. Senior dons from the University’s Faculty of Education will oversee the school and appoint its head teachers and teaching staff. It will also have strong links with the University’s PGCE programme, as one of their partner schools.

University of Cambridge Training School (UCTS) will be used for “school-focused academic research” into pupil learning styles and the best teaching methods.

Professor Peter Gronn, Head of the Faculty of Education, is “delighted with this announcement and that the UCTS will proceed. In partnership with schools and Teaching School alliances, the UCTS will build on the outstanding training already provided by the Faculty, thereby enabling it to play a lead national role in the enhancement of teacher quality, student learning and strategies for school improvement.”

Joscha Thiele, a second year English and Education student, told The Cambridge Student, “the prospect of a university training school is very exciting. The Faculty have a great record in primary education research.

“As an undergrad, I’d be interested in getting involved in the school somehow and the possibility of getting some first-hand practical pedagogical experience would be a great addition to the more theoretical aspects of the course.”

The Department of Education’s decision is part of wider changes to teacher training. School Direct and Teach First have been introduced as alternatives to the traditional PGCE route. School Direct is a one year school based programme where graduates are offered placements at some of the country’s best schools. However, the changes have caused controversy, as they mark a move away from traditional university based training.

The UCTS is part of a £1 billion investment in a North West Cambridge development project – the largest single capital development project that the University has undertaken in its 800 year history. It will also involve the construction of homes for university staff, accommodation for postgraduates, other community facilities like a community centre and a health centre, as well as a hotel.