Involved remedies

November 13, 1998

Mike Newby's view of teacher training (THES, Letters, ,October 23), is more realistic and even-handed than some of the doom-laden assessments seen recently. As he says, the situation is not terminal but "we can all do something to remedy" it.

Ofsted certainly recognises there are dangers in over-inspection, but we would point out that we undertook the further inspections of primary teacher training for a reason: to continue to probe the critical areas of training in literacy and numeracy. On completion of this, future arrangements for inspection programmes were discussed fully, including consultation with representatives of the teacher-training sector, such as the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers. The joint announcement by Ofsted and the Teacher Training Agency in July set out a clear pattern of inspections for the next four years: two consecutive two-year cycles looking at different aspects of primary training; and a three-year programme of secondary inspection will start from September 1999.

No doubt some will still regard these programmes as too onerous; but they represent a move towards less frequent, though still rigorous, inspections. We have also established, with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, a working group, on which UCET is represented, to look at the costs and procedures of inspection. These are some of the things that Ofsted is doing to address the problems Professor Newby perceives. We welcome the involvement of his organisation and others and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

David Taylor Head of teacher education inspections Office for Standards in Education

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