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Midwife teacher numbers squeezed - RCM

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There are too few teachers to adequately train the numbers of student midwives entering the education system, the Royal College of Midwives has warned.

The college claimed last week that increasing class sizes were potentially compromising the quality of teaching and support for students.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, it requested data from 56 Higher Education Institutions and received 34 responses.

The FOIs revealed the student-to-midwife teacher ratio increased over the last three years from 13 in 2009-10 to 14 in 2011-12. This is in spite of the RCM’s recommended maximum of 10 students to every teacher.

The data also shows the number of institutions meeting the RCM’s standard dropped from four in 2009-10 to just one in 2011-12.

The college said the “good news” was that more students were completing their course. But this was tempered by an increase in the turnover of teaching staff between 2009-10 and 2011-12.

Only 7% of students left without graduating in 2010-11, compared to 8% in the previous academic year. However, the average workforce attrition rate for teachers joining and leaving was 10% in 2010-11 compared with 8 per cent in 2009-10.

Gail Thomas, a member of the Council of Deans of Health executive, said: “The number of midwife lecturers only tells part of the story. Students now have many more opportunities to draw on specialist input from other disciplines, such as sociology, psychology and physiology.”

“The ratio of midwife registrants engaged in supporting students therefore does not reflect all their learning opportunities and should be seen in context.”

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