The opportunities and challenges of partnership working in Teacher Education, The Open University Partnership in Wales PGCE Programme

Glover, Alison; Thomas, Angela and Thomas, Rachel (2021). The opportunities and challenges of partnership working in Teacher Education, The Open University Partnership in Wales PGCE Programme. In: TEAN Conference, 6-7 May 2021.


In September 2020 The Open University and partner schools welcomed the first cohort of students to a new flexible PGCE Programme in Wales. The introduction of this two-year part time or salaried PGCE is an important element of the ongoing education reform underway in Wales as the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) sector continue to respond to the criticisms and weaknesses of previous ITE provision and develop a sector ‘dramatically different’ to elsewhere (Furlong, 2015; Cochran-Smith, 2020). The partnership working between schools and universities in Wales is already being recognised as transformative and a major step forward (Waters, 2020, p. 37). This round table discussion explores the opportunities and challenges of the partnership working with schools and regional education improvement services experienced by The Open University Partnership during the development and early implementation of the new flexible PGCE Programme.

Partnerships between schools and universities to deliver Teacher Education have existed in a range of formats but those led by universities dominate (Furlong et al., 2006, p. 3). Working together rather than in parallel is proposed to reflect Third-Space working, where a neutral space is used by the partners to develop and implement the jointly shared vision of Teacher Education (Jackson and Burch, 2019, p. 139). It is also recognised that student teachers’ learning needs to be placed at the centre of all activities, with principles and practices agreed by all in the partnership, and all those involved need to perceive the collaboration to be meaningful (Lillejord and Børte, 2016, p. 560). The importance of ‘research-informed clinical practice’ is also key for effective Teacher Education and for ‘secure partnerships’ to ensure true integration (Burn and Mutton, 2015, p. 229). This session will reflect on some of the opportunities that the new way of partnership working in Wales has experienced. For instance, the shared responsibilities of accreditation and course development. Some of the challenges that emerged, such as accommodating the views of all those involved and meeting each partner’s expectations, will also be discussed.


Burn, K. and Mutton, T. (2015) 'A review of ‘research-informed clinical practice’ in Initial Teacher Education', Oxford Review of Education, 15(2), pp. 217-233.

Cochran-Smith, M. (2020). 'Accountability and Initial teacher Education Reform: A Perspective from Abroad', Wales Journal of Education. 22(1), pp. 59-81.

Furlong, J. (2015) Teaching Tomorrow's Teachers: Options for the future of initial teacher education in Wales.

Furlong, J., Campbell, A., Howson, J., Lewis, S. and McNamara, O. (2006) 'Partnership in English Initial Teacher Education: Changing times, changing definitions – Evidence from the Teacher Training Agency National Partnership Project', Scottish Educational Review, 37(1), pp. 32-45.

Jackson, A. and Burch, J. (2019) New directions for teacher education: investigating school/university partnership in an increasingly school-based context, Professional Development in Education, 45(1), pp. 138-150.

Lillejord, S. and Børte, K. (2016) 'Partnership in teacher education – a research mapping', European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(5), pp. 550-563.

Waters, M. (2020) Learning to be a teacher for Wales: the induction of teachers into the profession. Cardiff: Welsh Government.

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