Inspectors round on teaching

June 7, 1996

Inspectors have strongly criticised primary teacher training at South Bank University.

A report from the Office for Standards in Education concludes that three out of four key aspects of provision in the university's education division were unsatisfactory when inspected last autumn.

They were: overall quality of training for the teaching of English; training in assessment, recording and reporting of schoolchildrens' work; and quality assurance arrangements.

Only the overall quality of training for the teaching of mathematics was considered "sound".

The Teacher Training Agency, which is introducing a new funding system based on quality judgements, is considering the report.

While training sessions seen in the university were good, students observed on final teaching practice in schools were "inadequately prepared to teach the subject, especially reading", the report says.

The standard of marking of students' English assignments was inconsistent. Assessors who were not English specialists were "too generous". The report also says that too many students did not have the competence to assess and record pupils' progress.

It adds that while the university itself has good quality systems, these had been poorly implemented in the education division. The monitoring of school-based work had "significant weaknesses".

"The assessment of students' assignments and of their teaching competence is inconsistent. Poor management of quality-assurance procedures at course level has lead to unacceptable inconsistencies in the students' training," it says.

Many of the problems were the result of a high turnover of staff and use of inexperienced and part-time tutors in recent years.

But the university said in a statement this week that students observed by inspectors were on both old and new versions of the teacher training course. Inspectors were mostly critical of the old rather than the new programme.

Vice chancellor Gerald Bernbaum said: "The inspectors highlighted some difficulties of which the university was already aware and had taken steps to correct."

Sussex University's Institute of Education has also received Ofsted criticism for quality assurance arrangements for teacher training.

The range and quality of school-based work by students was not sufficiently monitored, a report says. The university's quality monitoring systems failed to take proper account of the school-based element of teacher training, and were "not sufficiently developed to ensure a minimum training entitlement", the report adds.

Inspectors described a failure to provide clear guidelines to schools on when and how they should extend training done on campus as "a major area of weakness".

Although the university was assessing problems at the time of inspection, the report concludes that quality assurance arrangements overall were unsatisfactory.

A university spokeswoman said an action plan had been drawn up to address criticisms.

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