Where is the quality control on School Direct?

Two things struck me about the section of the Chief Inspectors Annual Report that dealt with the preparation of teachers and I have reproduced the relevant paragraph below.

Standards of initial teacher education (ITE) in England are high. Ofsted inspects two types of ITE partnership: higher education institutions (HEIs) and school-centred initial teacher training (SCITTs). Ofsted does not inspect the School Direct training programme for new teachers, although visits to schools involved in School Direct often form part of the inspection of HEIs or SCITTs. At their most recent inspection, 98% of ITE partnerships were judged good or outstanding.                                        Report of Chief Inspector 2014

Firstly, HMCI doesn’t inspect School Direct although his inspectors obviously come across trainees on both the fee-based and salaried routes in the courses of their inspections. This raises the obvious question, if not the responsibility of HMCI then who does have responsibility for quality control over both of the School Direct routes and how is such quality control administered? However, the HMCI did comment in the summary part of his Report that ‘inspectors saw much good practice but highlighted some concerns about the quality of training, particularly on the secondary School Direct (Salaried) route.’

The second interesting point is that in the areas of teacher preparation where HMCI does have responsibility for inspection some ‘98% of active partnerships were judged good or outstanding. ‘ This includes the provision led by higher education institutions that are so out of favour with the government.

The HMCI also joined the chorus of concern about teacher supply, noting the fall of 17% between 2009/10 and 2014/15 in entrants into teacher training and especially the seven per cent shortfall this year that this blog has already commented upon when the ITT census appeared at the end of November.

In addition to the comments about teacher preparation, the HMCI Report also has two interesting maps showing on one the distribution of Teaching Schools and on the other the index of multiple deprivation by decile of deprivation. The two maps make clear the problem of rural deprivation and the relative lack of Teaching Schools in parts of the north of England and the South West. Even more striking is the fact that there are less than a dozen such schools in an area bounded by the A1 to the west and the Wash and Humber to the north and south. The greatest concentration of such schools appears to be in London and the South East. This raises the question of why, if London schools are doing so well are those in the South East performing less well, with the highest placed authority only ranked 60th out of 150 local authorities on the Percentage of primary pupils attending either good or outstanding schools. Secondary schools did better, with seven authorities in the top 50 nationally, albeit that three of these had selective secondary systems.

Of course, one must be a little cautious about the statistics in any HMCI Report because the sample of schools inspected may not correspond to the population overall. This can especially be true where atypical schools in small unitary authorities are inspected. We will have to wait until next year, and the new government, to see what the effect, if any, of the introduction of ‘no notice’ inspections has on outcomes.

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