University training outperforms 'on the job'

26th November 2010 at 00:00
Twice as many academic courses rated outstanding, placing doubt on plans to shift more teacher training into schools

Government plans to train more teachers in schools have been called into question after Ofsted's annual report concluded that university courses provide higher-quality preparation for the classroom.

In the same week as the white paper revealed plans for a transition to "on-the-job" training, the education watchdog said that university-based schemes had performed considerably better in its inspections.

The report - the last from current chief inspector Christine Gilbert - revealed 47 per cent of university-led teacher training programmes were rated outstanding. Just 23 per cent of school-centred initial teacher training received the same grade.

Education secretary Michael Gove insisted it was "clear that teachers need more practical classroom training to back up their theoretical training". He added that new teachers benefit from observing experienced colleagues and vowed to press ahead with plans to establish new training schools.

But James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "We very much welcome the report, and it confirms what others have said about how successful university-based schemes are.

"We hope that the Government will take account of the whole evidence, rather than preconceptions about teacher training."

Elsewhere in Ofsted's report, Ms Gilbert said that pupils are being subjected to "dull and uninspiring" lessons, and claimed half of secondary teaching and 43 per cent of primary classes were "simply not good enough".

Tougher inspections and a focus on low-performing schools led to a drop in the number rated outstanding or good to 65 per cent, down from 68 per cent in 200809. The proportion of inadequate schools doubled to eight per cent.

The number of schools placed in special measures increased from 193 in 20089 to 300 last year.

Chris Keates, general secretary of teaching union NASUWT, said the teacher-training statistics would be a "further irritation to ministers".

She warned that the programme of education reforms and public spending cuts "flies in the face of Ofsted's evidence and will do untold damage to the quality of teaching and learning in schools".

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, expressed concerns about the inspection framework and "the variable quality of school inspectors".

Mary Bousted, education union ATL's general secretary, accused Ofsted of "denigrating the standard of schools".

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: "When you look beyond the sensationalist spin on the quality of teaching on our schools, `inadequate teaching' is the exception rather than the rule."

Key findings: `Too variable'

- Almost 32,000 inspections were carried out by Ofsted between September 2009 and August 2010.

- 65 per cent of schools are rated outstanding or good - down from 68 per cent in 200809.

- 8 per cent of schools are classed inadequate - double the 4 per cent figure from 200809.

- The proportion of good and outstanding schools varies hugely between local authorities, from 40 per cent up to 90 per cent.

- The quality of teaching is "too variable", with many classes found to be "dull and uninspiring".

- 11 of the 43 academies inspected are outstanding - only five schools gained the top grade in 200809 - but three were found to be inadequate.

  • Original headline: University training outperforms `on the job', finds Ofsted

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