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Ofsted to tackle training problem

Worries over quality of in-school courses prompt new inspection checks, reports Graeme Paton

Inspectors will be asked to review the standard of teachers' professional development in schools.

Ruth Kelly wants the Office for Standards in Education to ensure schools are providing high-quality in-service training for staff. But the Education Secretary has angered schools by ruling out any funding increases to help them to improve training.

The extra emphasis on development follows fears that too many training programmes are weak and such courses are often seen as "time off" for teachers.

All schools will be asked to sharpen up training, and teachers will be expected to reach certain standards to win pay rises.

But the refusal to provide extra funding to meet new training targets has angered heads. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The message that there is no more money is not going to go down well."

The NAHT pulled out of the workforce agreement last week in a row over funding. Mr Hart said: "We are soaking up vast amounts of money employing national, regional and local strategy managers to keep tabs on the enormous number of initiatives schools are supposed to be taking part in: this is money which should be going straight into schools so that they can deliver the decent professional development that the Government is seeking."

Most large secondaries set aside around pound;20,000 a year for training from standards fund grants.

In a letter to the Teacher Training Agency, which is being asked to lead the new drive to improve in-service training, Ms Kelly said that the "chief resource for teacher development is already embedded in schools' budgets".

She said training would remain the responsibility of individual schools, and that the agency should not impose a one-size-fits-all model on headteachers.

"Decisions about professional development will be taken by schools and teachers themselves," she said. "This implies a major culture change, a greater emphasis on in-school and cross-school activities, such as coaching and mentoring, classroom observation, training and other collaborations."

Ms Kelly said Ofsted should add in-service training to its inspection list of duties to ensure high standards.

"I have also asked my officials to explore with Ofsted the scope for them to conduct regular surveys and reviews of CPD (continuing professional development)," she said.

Ralph Tabberer, the chief executive of the TTA, has already hinted that teachers will in the future have to reach certain training standards to pass the threshold or gain the proposed new "excellent teacher" status, which would give them at least pound;35,000 a year.

Ms Kelly has asked the agency to come up with proposals on the future of professional development in schools by the end of the year.

* graeme.paton@tes.co.uk

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