Success has followed failure

11th October 1996 at 01:00
Unlike other sections of the press, your mention of this college within your report on those failing Office for Standards in Education inspections (TES, September 27) was fair and balanced in that it specifically referred to a course and not to the whole institution.

Westhill College took a policy decision in June 1995 to abandon undergraduate initial teacher training in favour of a wholly PGCE mode. The net result of that decision has been to submit a bid to the Teacher Training Agency for a reduction in numbers over the next three years from approximately 620 initial teacher training (ITT) students to 200. We have had no first-year BEd entry this year, but have fully compensated for the loss by our increased BA numbers. By the year 2000, ITT will account for only 15 per cent of our work.

Our own internal audit revealed weaknesses in our curriculum English course before the OFSTED inspection was completed, and significant changes were implemented during the summer of 1995. However, the OFSTED inspectors felt unable to take these changes into account when they undertook the second part (actually part 1) in October 1995 and made their whole judgment on the criteria existing when they made their initial visit in May. This is clearly stated in their report. Obviously, we suffered from our willingness to accommodate an early inspection on the grounds of the inspectors' needs to satisfy quotas in the 19945 academic year.

None of this excuses our failure and we seek no excuses for it, but it was one failure in one part of one course. We have, in the meantime, experienced a whole range of new successes. It is, to say the least, somewhat galling to be headlined constantly for the former, while the press at large ignores the latter.

J G PRIESTLEY Principal Westhill College Wooley Park Road Selly Oak Birmingham

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