Inspection training costs balloon

Anybody wanting to train as a school inspector for the Office for Standards in Education will now have to pay Pounds 900 for the five-day course.

The Treasury has told OFSTED that from April 1 primary and secondary inspection training will not receive public subsidy. Up until now, primary courses were free and secondary courses were subsidised by Pounds 600.

Brian McCafferty, OFSTED's head of training, says OFSTED hopes to reduce the impact of this change by inviting independent contractors to set up courses at a cost that they would determine themselves. He anticipates objections that this would might lead to a proliferation of second-rate course-providers undercutting the market, by saying that the courses would be identical to the ones run by OFSTED.

The letter sent to prospective trainees says that OFSTED has no idea what the contractors will charge. "It could be less than Pounds 900 but it will be for you as an applicant to contact individual contractors to establish actual costs. We have no information about contractors' arrangements at this stage. "

An OFSTED spokesman said: "The market is there. We cannot justify using public money for courses now that we have enough inspectors."

The OFSTED spokesman denied that the charge would prevent new blood from flowing into the inspectorate. "We still train the trainers and make sure candidates are up to scratch before they are registered."

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