Limited progress made by courses for further education teachers since Ofsted last reported in 2003
Still striking contrast between taught element and practical element of courses
The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has today published, The Initial Training of Further Education Teachers: Findings From 2004-05 Inspections of Courses Leading to National Awarding Body Qualifications. The report sets out the findings from inspections of initial teacher training (ITT) courses for further education (FE) teachers that lead to National Awarding Body (NAB) qualifications.
Inspectors found that there has been limited progress in improving the quality of training in colleges providing National Awarding Body ITT courses. Many of the weaknesses identified in a survey undertaken by Ofsted in 2003 still remain. There is still a striking contrast between the quality of the taught element of ITT courses, which is generally good, and the quality of the practical elements, which is inadequate. Training in taught sessions successfully extends trainees' professional knowledge and expertise, but the taught and practical elements of courses are often poorly integrated.
Although all trainees observed by inspectors reach a satisfactory or good level of teaching capability, the most capable trainees do not achieve their full potential and insufficient attention is given by trainees to analysing the impact of their teaching on students' progress.
While many courses have introduced subject mentoring schemes, the support from mentors is usually voluntary and often inadequate. Senior managers also give insufficient attention to the quality of the initial training at the institutions they manage. They rarely make the connection that improving the quality of ITT will improve the overall standards of teaching and learning as the trainees already teach within their institutions.
However, inspectors did find, almost invariably, that trainees adopt a highly professional approach to teaching. They have high expectations and are committed to raising the achievement of all students. Their teaching is enlivened through the use of a wide range of teaching methods and their ability to draw upon their industrial experience. They also have a strong empathy with their students and are often successful in motivating students who have a poor record of prior attainment.
Ofsted's Director of Education, Miriam Rosen, said:
"Clearly there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to bring about improvements in initial teacher training for further education teachers. While some improvements have been seen since Ofsted's last survey in 2003, they are not nearly enough. Colleges must improve their mentoring schemes and ensure there is systematic support from more experienced teachers. These changes, along with improving the practice element of courses, could make a real difference."
Inspectors made a number of recommendations to bring about improvements. Senior managers in FE colleges should:
- Increase the attention that they give to improving the quality and standards of ITT for their staff, making the connection between the quality of ITT and the overall standards of teaching and learning within their institutions.
- Ensure that trainee teachers are given adequate mentoring and other forms of support to develop their specialist teaching skills during their initial training and subsequent professional development.
- Provide consistent and effective support for trainees with inadequate study skills and ensure evaluation procedures take account of the overall experience of trainees from both the taught and practical element of the training.
National Awarding Bodies should:
Develop more robust procedures for moderating the standards that trainees achieve in their teaching and reduce the amount of in-course assessment demanded of trainees.
Work with colleges to strengthen the support that trainees are given from mentors to develop their specialist expertise in teaching their own subject/vocational area.
Notes for Editors
- The Initial Training of Further Education Teachers: Findings from the 2004-05 Inspections of Courses Leading to National Awarding Body Qualifications report is available on the Ofsted website today.
- The findings in today's report relate to the outcomes of the first year of a four-year inspection programme into the initial training of further education teachers. The evidence on which today's report is based is derived from inspections carried out during the academic year 2004/05 by Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI), together with inspectors from the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and additional inspectors. Inspectors evaluated provision in 30 colleges.
- The survey report published by Ofsted in 2003 on FE teacher training is called The Initial Training of Further Education Teachers (HMI 1762).
- Ofsted is a non-ministerial government department established under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the inspection of all schools in England. Its role also includes the inspection of further education, local authority children's services, teacher training institutions and some independent schools. During 2001, Ofsted became responsible for inspecting all 16-19 education and for the regulation of early years childcare, including childminders.