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Trainers and inspectors sign up to code

UNIVERSITIES and the Office for Standards in Education have reached a joint agreement on a code of practice for inspections of teacher training courses.

The OFSTEDpaper, Making Inspection Work, will cover the timing, criteria and procedure for inspections of initial teacher training courses, following complaints about the controversial re-inspection of primary courses.

Universities complained then that they were being revisited too soon and that criteria for inspection and the documentation they were expected to produce were not sufficiently clear. Crucially, there was also confusion over the grades they were supposed to award students - something several colleges were failed on.

The paper will make these issues explicit. But it cannot address more fundamental complaints, that inspection is too frequent, time-consuming and expensive.

The document, consulted on for a year, is similar to that for school inspections, but the universities have had a greater role in its production than schools.

It arose from a working party which includes the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, and the Standing Committee of Principals - as well as OFSTED and the Teacher Training Agency.

Patricia Ambrose, executive secretary of SCOP, said: "There have been occasions when institutions felt they weren't given adequate notice. There are always worries about the kind of documentation inspectors might want, including issues of confidentiality.

"It will help clarify the position for institutions and OFSTED'S obligations. But it doesn't deal with the more contentious issues of methodology or frequency."

The document will set out the roles and responsibilities of the universities, OFSTED and the Teacher Training Agency, which uses inspection findings to allocate teacher training places.

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