Would-be teachers fear for their future as Ofsted damns training college
The futures of hundreds of trainee teachers have been thrown into doubt after their course was judged inadequate by Ofsted.
A damning inspection report has found "very high levels of dissatisfaction and frustration" among students at Anglia Ruskin University.
Its courses for primary teachers - which are currently training 386 students - could be closed down if improvements are not made.
Ofsted found "significant issues" with school placements, communication, monitoring of student progress and the way the quality of the courses was judged.
"These issues cause trainees much anxiety and restrict their progress. They often have a knock-on effect on the timing of their assignments and tasks," inspectors said.
Ofsted said the majority of trainees it interviewed "lacked confidence" in teaching early literacy and phonics.
Trainees also complained that lectures cancelled classes without telling them. They said "few" tutors knew them by name, and the support they got was inconsistent.
The drop-out rate from the university's PGCE course has risen sharply from 3.4 per cent four years ago to 11.3 per cent in 200809.
"The partnership recruits well-qualified trainees with the potential to become good teachers but it cannot guarantee that trainees achieve their full potential because of shortcomings in training and assessment," Ofsted said. "Trainees succeed because they are self-motivated and keen to further their professional development."
There are currently 321 students on undergraduate primary and early years courses. There are also 65 students completing the primary and early years PGCE programmes.
Anglia Ruskin University student union president Matt East said students were concerned about the Ofsted rating before the inspection report had been released. Since then university officials have held sessions to ask students their opinions and to inform them of changes.
On the TES Connect forums, student teachers said they were concerned about their futures.
One user, known as Loupin, wrote: "I already have a job secured for September but many of my friends do not and are worried about this going forward - will it affect their ability to secure a post?"
Another, G Butterworth, posted: "I wondering if it would be best for me to leave, take the financial hit, and start my PGCE again somewhere where it's not going to fail its Ofsted. Also have the concerns over jobs - will heads view students from our institution dimly?"
Ofsted said the university's teacher training department did have strengths, including organising overseas placements for students and a wide range of resources. "Despite the inadequacies in overall effectiveness, applications are buoyant and employment rates are above the sector average," it added.
In a statement, the university said: "We have already started to address some of the key issues raised in the Ofsted report and are currently implementing a strategy to resolve the outstanding areas of concern."
The Training and Development Agency for Schools can withdraw its accreditation from an institution when there is evidence of "non-compliance" with Government requirements.
It can decide whether to let courses continue while institutions address problems, or it can suspend them. Anglia Ruskin courses are continuing while it draws up details of how to make improvements.