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Initial training course slated

A school-centred initial teacher-training course has been given a damning inspection report, calling into question the expansion of such schemes.

The report on the North Bedfordshire Consortium condemns the course for its poor quality controls and management.

It comes at a sensitive time for Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools, who last week laid out plans for 49 "beacon" schools to breathe new life into the SCITT scheme.

The report says the management of the North Bedfordshire consortium has "serious shortcomings".

The partnership's management and its monitoring of standards were described as of poor quality, while the course's overall design and training content did not comply with the Secretary of State's criteria for teacher training.

The Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers said the publication of yet another critical report from the Office for Standards in Education cast doubt on the expansion of SCITT schemes .

UCET secretary Mary Russell said: "We would like some open and public support for those schools which have decided that their involvement in teacher training will be through partnership with higher education institutions.

"This would be more welcome than continuing attempts to persuade schools to set up SCITT schemes - particularly in the light of the chief inspector's own comments in his annual report that the schemes are not attracting well-qualified students and in the light of poor OFSTED reports that so many of the current SCITT schemes have received."

In his annual report, chief inspector Chris Woodhead pointed out that trainees recruited to SCITT schemes are on average less well-qualified than those found in traditional partnerships.

The failure to monitor the scheme run by the Bedfordshire consortium, which concentrates on PE, English and general professional studies, was highlighted in the report.

It said: "There are serious weaknesses in the internal monitoring and external moderation of quality and standards which have resulted in the consortium providing a course of intial teacher training which is poor in important areas."

It says that many of the students on the course had been given extremely limited training in teaching examination courses.

"Students have an unacceptably variable understanding of the standards required by the national curriculum," it said.

Students are taught early on the skills of control and organisation but, the report says, "their training does not take them past this point" and is "of poor quality".

Other SCITTs have had similarly poor OFSTED reports. The Coastal Confederation in Essex was criticised for the poor quality of its training processes and the assessment of its students.

The Chiltern Training Group and the West Midlands Consortium were also told in their OFSTED reports that significant improvement was required in their training process and student assessment.

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