“[Hugh Despenser]…as a traitor…you shall be drawn and quartered, and your quarters dispersed throughout the kingdom…and because at all times you have been disloyal and a formenter of strife…you shall be disembowelled, and after that your bowels shall be burned. Confess yourself a traitor and a renegade! And so go to meet your doom. Traitor! Evildoer!! and Convicted!!! (Brigstocke Sheppard, 1889, p.413)”
The story of Hugh Despenser’s conviction and later execution was the first thing which popped into my head as I fired up Twitter last night to be greeted by the news that, due to new application rules for
Initial Teacher Training, some of the most successful and important History PGCE courses were not likely to be viable to run from 2016. Meanwhile, school based training still had a bank of reserved places, despite struggling to fill these in many cases in the past. Now, I have no inherent opposition to schools providing ITT, if it is done well, however I would argue that much of this has been driven by an ideological desire to break up university control of Initial Teacher Training. Just like the unfortunate Despenser, university education departments have been accused of formenting strife, being disloyal to the cause of traditional education, and ignoring the practicalities of training classroom teachers. What is bitterly ironic is that many of the places which are facing the prospect of being forced to shut their doors, are at the forefront of the fight against the dumbing down of education, exam driven practice and pandering to Ofsted’s latest whims. The stage has been set for the final execution of university based ITT, for it to be divided up for academy chains and private education companies to fight over. Much like the execution of Despenser, the process has been long and painful.