In-school training limited

August 18, 1995

New school-centred initial teacher training schemes have made a "mixed start" and will need to improve to reach the same standard as existing higher education-based courses, inspectors said this week.

The first year of secondary postgraduate schemes (SCITT courses) run by 32 schools and colleges, organised into six consortia, showed that the schemes were capable of producing competent teachers.

But problems with managing courses, providing good library facilities, quality assurance and tutor-training made it difficult for students to excel, a report from the Office for Standards in Education says.

Around 82 per cent of the 150 students on the courses, which started in September 1993, demonstrated skills that were at least satisfactory, while 35 per cent were good or very good.

This compared with 90 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, for established postgraduate certificate of education courses in university education departments and higher education colleges.

The report says the relatively low percentage of good or very good standards was "somewhat surprising", particularly as established courses offered just 24 weeks teaching practice in schools compared to 36 weeks on SCITT programmes.

It comments: "Standards in individual consortia varied, but in most, there were missed opportunities resulting from a belief that the school-centred nature of the course would, without any formal planning, develop and enhance the student's further professional development."

Mike Tomlinson, Ofsted's director of inspection, said that expectations of students among school-based students and mentors were often too low.

"When they hit the competent level it was like a glass ceiling and there was no pushing to reach beyond it," he said.

However, the achievements of the first year were "promising", and while two of the consortia were failed on first inspection, they had since achieved a satisfactory standard.

The question of whether the SCITT initiative had achieved its goal of creating a new kind of work-based teacher training was less clear. Many consortia were having to draw on facilities and expertise provided by higher education, and the schemes were unlikely to extend beyond a minority of provision, Mr Tomlinson said.

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