Teacher education has experienced widespread disruption in recent years and there is growing international concern about how policy changes are impacting on notions of teacher professionalism, partnership and pupil outcomes (TEG, 2016). Market driven reforms in England have resulted in the systemic fragmentation of provision. The Diversity in Education research programme (DiTE) at Bath Spa University aims to provide insights into contemporary teacher education reform building on the findings of the earlier Modes of Teacher Education (MOTE) study undertaken in the 1990s (Furlong et al. 2000). The initial output from the DiTE programme (Whiting et al., 2018) demonstrated the complexity and the perplexity arising from continual and rapid change.
Empirical work, involving case studies, was undertaken in the 2016-17 academic year to explore the in depth characteristics of a sample of different types of provision. In particular critical attention has been given as to what constitutes a partnership approach to initial teacher education (Sorensen, 2017). The conclusion is that partnership arrangements within a school-led system comprise fluid and negotiated arrangements between schools and HEIs that are determined to protect the interests of both and enable schools to secure an advantageous position within a complex system. This paper draws on semi-structured interviews with school partners and beginner teachers to explore how the contribution that universities make to initial teacher education is valued within a school-led system. A key conclusion is that in spite of government policy partnership with HEIs is still valued and the PGCE award is considered to be important.