RIP St Martin’s MFL PGCE

I have found out today that my beloved teacher training institution, St Martin’s College, Lancaster (aka University of Cumbria) will no longer be offering the PGCE in MFL. It seems that no NW universities except Liverpool John Moores will be offering it. I am shocked.

I believe this is a national decision, made by the current government, who somehow believe that teachers should only experience the classroom and a school environment, and not the university element of teacher training, through a Schools Direct program. What about the pedagogies? What about the theories? What about the environment which lets you experience the scary world of teaching by starting you off slowly, in front of your peers? The environment that nurtures and cares for you? What about the university tutors whose sole job is to teach you how to teach? To mentor you? To inspire you? I’m at a loss to understand why this would be taken away from trainee teachers. These things, I believe, are the backbone of becoming a good teacher.

As much as I love mentoring trainee teachers I am under no illusion that my principal job is as a HoD with a department to run and my own classes to teach. I am not paid to mentor and my department doesn’t see any of the funding given to the school. I do it because I was inspired when I first started to teach and my dream is to keep that inspiration going. If trainee teachers lose university time they will have a much narrower experience, and will be mentored by teachers, like myself, who, with the best will in the world might not have the time required to dedicate themselves fully to a trainee teacher.

I am in absolute disbelief that the course that changed my life forever will no longer exist. I am thankful that I got to experience the phenomenal tutors at St Martin’s and I am immensely grateful for the personal and professional support that they gave me throughout the course and beyond.

When I started the course I remember that there was some issues with my funding coming through, so Anne Darys lent me some money out of her own pocket. She made the stresses that this brought disappear so I could concentrate on learning to teach. After completing my PGCE I have continued to stay in touch with her and she has supported me in delivering Spanish sessions to UoC students. It has been an excellent opportunity to enhance my own professional practice and to get to know the students that I would mentor as well, and now this too will come to an end. Thank you Anne.

I used to have regular meetings with my personal tutor (and now professional idol) James Burch. He would listen to my thoughts and feelings and pushed me into becoming the teacher I am today. I will be forever grateful to him for being so amazingly insightful and making me feel that every word I uttered was relevant. Thank you James.

I will never forget the first weeks of the PGCE when Anna Bartrum taught us Italian, which we then unpicked. She walked the talk and made us believe that anything was possible in the target language. Thank you Anna.

To each and every teacher, trainee teacher and anyone else reading this, I am sure that many good teachers have been born of courses such as Teach First and GTP, so I do not wish to offend or suggest that these paths into teaching are not good. I do, however, believe that an opportunity to be inspired has now been removed from future generations and for this, I am sad.

PS This was the original email comment that I received which gave me the news ‘you will have heard by now that the PGCE course will no longer exist as of next September and that we are moving to School Direct (which means a much reduced Secondary PG team)’.

Perhaps some links may remain with the MFL team? I sincerely hope so.


  1. I echo your thoughts entirely- I did my PGCE at St Martin’s – so long ago that it was even before the legendary James Burch! -but I have seen many a student thrive at Our Lady’s (and even go on to be head and assistant head of dept) from his work and this particular MFL PGCE course. So a sad RIP indeed.

  2. Pingback: The Joy of Being Observed | #makingthechange

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