Training courses go after poor inspections

Two more teacher-training providers have followed the Open University in closing courses and seven more risk losing accreditation following a blizzard of damning reports by inspectors.

Ten courses at nine providers failed to meet Government standards in at least one area, according to Office for Standards in Education reports published this week. Nine of the courses failed in the key areas of training andor assessment of students.

All bar one of the 10 were in secondary subjects - most in shortage areas. Student numbers on the courses are automatically halved by the Teacher Training Agency, prompting warnings that the closures could exacerbate the recruitment crisis.

The agency has already begun withdrawing accreditation from four institutions - Greenwich University, south London, whose PE postgraduate certificate in education course failed, the Urban Learning Foundation, north London (English), Bretton Hall College, Wakefield (music) and Chiltern Training Group, Luton (PE). Failing another inspection will mean loss of accreditation.

"The stakes are very high," said Stephen Hillier, the TTA's communications director. "These four have one final chance to put things right."

Four school-centred initial teacher-training schemes were among the 10 providers - another embarrassing crop of results for SCITTs originally championed as an alternative to higher education-based training. One of them, the Douay Martyrs Consortium in Middlesex has already shut down - the first SCITT to do so. Maths and its reinspected geography course both failed.

Nene College in Northampton also failed a reinspection of geography and has closed all its secondary courses.

Leeds University (IT) and Gloucestershire Initial Teacher Education Partnership (music) have been given a "serious warning" to sharpen up or also face the "withdrawal track".

And Reading University may see its primary training course scrapped if standards of literacy and numeracy among students do not seriously improve.

The move to withdraw accreditation from entire institutions on the basis of one or two failing courses was criticised by the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers. "It seems excessive to withdraw accreditation from an institution if other courses have got through their inspections." UCET secretary Mary Russell said.

Mr Hillier said there was every reason the other providers could "turn around". Closure would not affect recruitment: "Good students will be snapped up elsewhere."

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