Teacher training funding decisions may jeopardize PGCE courses at England’s leading universities, according to sources. Specifically, some outstanding courses, such as those at Cambridge University, may face severe cutbacks as ministers attempt to transfer control of training to schools through the School Direct program. While some within the Department for Education (DfE) have expressed unease about this move, university-led teacher training provision is nonetheless likely to be scaled back, in favor of places routed through the School Direct program. This controversial change in funding appears to reflect an ongoing ideological battle, in which Michael Gove and Charlie Taylor have successfully pushed for the focus to be placed on school-based training, over concerns expressed by Liberal Democrat schools minister, David Laws, about destabilizing university-led provision. Meanwhile, school websites reveal a shift in focus towards so-called ‘British values’, which have picked up momentum in the wake of the "Trojan Horse" situation. While some are concerned that schools are being overly swayed by political pressure, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has defended the increased emphasis on such values, stating that, "What this is about is making sure people understand the enormity of what happened in Trojan Horse, the fact that there were people seeking to undermine those schools" . Finally, despite the enthusiasm of former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, the opening of the Durand Boarding Academy, which was to have taken in south London pupils in West Sussex, has been repeatedly delayed. Concerns have been raised about the £7m project that was once so heavily backed by Gove, with the delay another roadblock in an ongoing controversy surrounding the academy, which was marred by accusations of nepotism against Durand’s parent body, The Durand Academy Trust.
Various free schools seem to be competing to have the most minimal amount of students. Trinity Academy, a secondary school located in Lambeth, South London, gained attention last month due to the fact that it opened with only 17 students on its roster. In a similar context, Park Community School, a primary school managed by the Chapel St Charity just a stone’s throw away in Morden, began its operations with only 12 children. These pupils were accommodated within an old hut that formerly belonged to the Salvation Army.
Taking the lead so far in this trend is the Leeds Jewish Free School, which is now in its second year and has no more than 21 students. According to the Yorkshire Post, this secondary school’s low numbers have caused people to ask if the free schools project offers its value for money or not.