Trainers fear quality link to cash

January 10, 1997

UNIVERSITY and college teacher training heads have expressed alarm over the prospect of a direct link between new quality ratings and funding.

A follow-up wave of inspections of all primary initial teacher training programmes scheduled to take place over the next two years may be used to gather evidence on quality which will influence funding decisions, Teacher Training Agency officials have warned.

The timetable for the new sweep of visits, to be conducted by the inspection agency Ofsted, was agreed in a meeting before Christmas between the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, Ofsted and the TTA. The CVCP pushed Ofsted to extend the re-inspection to all teacher training providers, rather than limiting it to a sample of about 20 as planned.

But the CVCP had not expected the results of the re-inspections to be applied to the TTA's new funding system, which takes quality ratings into account.

In a letter to all providers in October last year, Frankie Sulke, the TTA's head of policy, said information from the primary follow-up survey would simply be used to "monitor compliance with the secretary of state's criteria for initial teacher training", and stated that it would "not be used to inform allocation decisions, expect where there is evidence of non-compliance".

However, Anthea Millett, the TTA's chief executive, now says the extension of the inspection to all providers may mean the evidence will influence funding decisions.

"When it was a sample of just 20 we decided we would not use it for funding purposes. But if it is going to be every institution then the board will need to look again at the issue and take a view as to how it will use the evidence," she said.

A spokesman confirmed this week that while the power about what to do with the inspection evidence lay with the TTA board, "the preference is for it to feed directly into the funding mechanism".

Patricia Ambrose, CVCP policy adviser, said such a move was likely to concern institutions because the inspections would be taking place over a period in which the TTA planned to introduce a new national curriculum for teacher training.

"It means that half way through the inspection cycle there will be a change in the criteria against which providers are being judged. It will be difficult for them to get a consistent picture," she said.

The CVCP is likely to call for a meeting with the TTA to discuss "what meaningful use can be made of the inspection data," she said.

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