Trainers bemoan short inspections

24th January 2003 at 00:00
SHORT inspections designed to relieve administrative pressures on teacher-trainers are proving as onerous as the full-length versions, according to universities.

They say staff are having to produce the same amount or more paperwork than is required for standard inspections and inspectors are sometimes not sure what to make of the information provided.

Inspections of just a few days were introduced for good teacher-trainer providers this academic year. Full inspections involve several visits over a year and visits to trainees on their school placements.

Those courses rated good by inspectors are not reinspected for three years.

Others face a full inspection within a year.

Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "The new system clearly needs time to shake down, but I don't think anybody so far views it as 'light touch'."

Bath Spa university has had three short inspections. Linda Fursland, head of secondary and middle education, said: "There was a huge amount of paperwork and inspectors were really struggling to cope in the four days they could give it. It didn't feel like a short inspection."

Manchester Metropolitan University's Institute of Education has had five short inspections. Professor Kate Jacques, the institute's head, said:

"There was an added burden in producing extra documentation, but if the pay-off is the inspectors are not back for another three years, it's worth it."

The Office for Standards in Education said many providers were supplying too much information, and that both short and full inspections require the same "burden of paperwork".

The spokeswoman added that all inspections include a new element, covering management and quality assurance which had added to the paperwork of both standard and short versions. There have been no complaints arising from the 40 new-style inspections so far completed.

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