Date published: 16th October 2019

Published by: John Roberts @ The Tes

Amanda Spielman says Ofsted’s teacher training checks have been too driven by data, which could have masked weaknesses.

New inspections of teacher training providers will be more focused on their curriculum, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has revealed.

Ms Spielman admitted that Ofsted’s checks on initial teacher education has been driven by performance data – as it has been with schools  –  which could be masking weaknesses or strengths in some training providers.

In a commentary published today, she said the changes to the initial teacher education framework (ITE) would bring it in line with the new education inspection framework in schools, which has an increased focus on curriculum

Ofsted is now carrying out research to test how it can inspect curriculum quality in teacher training providers.

Ms Spielman said: “Much like our previous education framework, the current ITE framework places a lot of emphasis on data. For example, it focuses on employment rates, completion rates and individual trainees’ effectiveness.

Ofsted teacher training inspections

“Consequently, inspectors have put relatively little weight on what trainees are taught or how well the centre-based and school-based training is combined into a coherent package of learning. The reliance on other outcome measures may, therefore, cover up some kinds of weakness across partnerships, or even mask strengths.”

Ms Spielman also voiced concerns that a lack of research into the initial teacher education (ITE) curriculum could mean some trainees are not receiving a balanced training programme.

Ofsted has also published a literature review into ITE curriculum research carried out by Sheffield Hallam University. It found “a dearth of specific literature on the curricula for ITE programmes”.

The review identified that key areas of an ITE curriculum include learning to teach (generic pedagogy and classroom management); learning to teach a subject (subject knowledge, pedagogies and curriculum); and learning to be a teacher (professional behaviours and values).

Ms Spielman added: “The lack of overall discussion of ITE curriculum may mean that, in practice, these areas of learning are not always covered as deeply as they should be or that one aspect tends to take priority over the others.

“The time available on a course to cover all aspects, particularly in a single-year training course, is one possible explanation for this.

“An example of this is that some trainees are not fully prepared in understanding and applying effective practice for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Curriculum balance, therefore, seems an important aspect of ITE curriculum that we need to investigate further.”

Ofsted has identified curriculum balance; the sequencing of theory and practice ; mentor support and guidance; the training of teacher educators; and communications between centre-based provision and placement as being important to ITE curriculum quality.

It is now testing how well it can inspect these areas across different types of teacher training provider.

Ofsted revealed earlier this year that its new teacher training inspections  will check how well new teachers are being prepared to manage behaviour in the classroom .

Its new teacher training inspection framework is being introduced in September next year.


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