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Ofsted to scrutinise trainees' professional dress as part of overhaul of teacher training inspections

Ofsted is to place greater scrutiny on the training offered to new teachers, it was announced today, which could include more emphasis on how trainees dress. 

The schools watchdog said that it intends to overhaul the way initial teacher training partnerships are inspected in a bid to raise standards, and will be seeking views on a range of issues, such as new teachers’ “professional dress and conduct”.

In a speech in Nottingham last month, the chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, described it as a “national scandal” that 40 per cent of new teachers left the profession within five years.

“We need to ask some serious questions about the effectiveness of our current system of teacher training. Is it as good as it should be?” he said in January.

“So let me be frank: I’m not sure it is. And, in fact, if you talk to a lot of headteachers, they would have the same reservations as I have…”

Too often, Sir Michael said, headteachers had told him that teacher trainers ignored their advice on whether new teachers should be allowed into the classroom, or had been trained by people with no experience of good teaching.

And he added: “How many times have I heard that trainees have been sent into schools without proper guidance on professional behaviour or dress?

“How many times have I heard that trainees have been inadequately prepared to deal with poor behaviour?”

Under the changes proposed by Ofsted today, inspectors will focus on the impact trainers have had on a trainee’s teaching by the end of the course, as well as concentrating on how well they are prepared for “the rigours of the classroom”.

The regulator added there would be a specific focus on how trainees are prepared to manage behaviour and discipline, while it will listen to views on whether a greater emphasis should be placed on “trainees’ professional dress and conduct”.

But Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was up to individual schools to enforce their dress and conduct code. 

"It's an issue that is entirely down to the internal management of the school. Any school will have a policy on dress and conduct and its the job of the school to explain their requirements to the trainees. I don't really understand why Ofsted needs to get involved," Mr Lightman said.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for initial teacher training, said the changes would ensure all trainees were ready to succeed in the classroom.

“Too often newly qualified teachers enter the classroom ill-prepared for the challenges of teaching pupils. If they are to succeed then they need the continued support of middle and senior managers after their training. Our more rigorous way of inspecting will help make sure that teachers are better prepared when they enter the teaching profession,” Mr Harford said.

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