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West Lancashire Tories urged to reject Gibb university remarks
19 May 2010

West Lancashire's Conservatives have this week been called on to disassociate themselves from controversial comments made by a Tory minister about graduates from universities including Ormskirk's Edge Hill.

Councillor Paul Cotterill, leader of West Lancashire Borough Council's Labour group, said yesterday that he wanted Councillor Ian Grant, his Conservative counterpart and the council's leader, to reject suggestions from Schools Minister Nick Gibb that he'd rather see an Oxbridge graduate with no PGCE teaching physics than a qualified teacher with a degree from a 'rubbish university' in the teaching profession.

“For Nick Gibb to 'rubbish' non-elite universities, and to pour uinformed scorn on the value of teacher training, is a massive insult the staff and students of institutions like Edge Hill University,” said Cllr Cotterill.

“Edge Hill is the biggest provider of teacher training in the North of England, and amongst people who know anything about higher education has a well-founded reputation for excellence. It is also an insult to all those students who work hard for a degree and then move into teacher training as the next step in their career development. In Nick Gibb's narrow worldview, their efforts are worthless.

"Mr Gibb would do well to actually look at the facts before he starts spouting nonsense, and I think our local Conservatives would do well to distance themselves publicly from his remarks."

In an article published in The Guardian earlier this week, Mr Gibb was reported to have told officials in the Department of Education just days after being promoted to the post of Schools Minister in the new coalition government:

"I would rather have a physics graduate from Oxbridge without a PGCE teaching in a school than a physics graduate from one of the rubbish universities with a PGCE."

Edge Hill University told The Champion that its teaching courses were rating as 'Outstanding' by OFSTED, who monitor teaching courses across the country.

"Nick Gibb's comments are, I'm afraid, a dangerous mix of ideology and ignorance,“ said John Cater, the university's vice chancellor.

"As a past Director of the Government's Training and Development for Schools seven years and Chair of its Accreditation Committee for three, I can confirm that effective teachers come from a range of different universities and backgrounds, and include many with extensive experience both inside and outside of the school system.“

Councillor Ian Grant responded to Councillor Cotterill's comments by saying it was difficult to comment without knowing the exact nature of Mr Gibb's remarks, but did praise Edge Hill's teaching courses.

"The Council has developed an excellent working relationship with Edge Hill from its time as a College to now that of a University and values not only its outstanding academic achievements and those of its students but also the major financial impact that it has had and continues to have on the local economy,“ he said.

"Edge Hill University has attracted in recent years capital monies to create new buildings on its site of which all in West Lancashire should be proud. We will continue to add support for the University and its achievements."

By David Simister



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