Criticised consortia were both in their first year;Letter

6th March 1998 at 00:00
One might be forgiven for wondering if sections of the educational press are conducting a vendetta against school-centred initial teacher training.

Articles in the last two editions of The TES ("Initial training course slated" on February 20 and "Woodhead's project gets bad marks", February 27) seem designed to paint the bleakest possible picture by focusing exclusively on the criticisms contained in recent reports on two providers (the North Bedfordshire Consortium and the Oxfordshire Consortium), backed up by a selective summary of other SCITT reports.

Both articles feature quotes from the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers. UCET raises some important points about the need to persuade more schools to get involved in partnership with higher education institutions, but it should be noted that it is commenting on teacher-training schemes which do not, as a rule, involve its member institutions, and some might wish to raise questions about its motivation.

No mention is made in either article of the fact that the two consortia singled out are new providers in their first year of operation. OFSTED recognises that new courses take time to settle. The grades given in these inspections are, therefore, provisional. Moreover, both consortia have accepted the findings in the reports with a high degree of professionalism. They are being re-inspected this year.

Both articles draw selectively on the range of reports published by OFSTED on SCITT providers, detailing the weaknesses highlighted in some while ignoring or downplaying other reports which do not support the central thesis that school-centred provision is not delivering.

Overall, the evidence indicates that SCITT schemes, which are still a relatively new development, are certainly capable of providing high-quality initial teacher training. Not all SCITT providers are yet operating at this level, but then neither are all higher education institution-based courses.

DAVID TAYLOR

Head of Teacher Education amp; Training Inspection OFSTED

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