From education to employment

Ofsted report findings for FE initial teacher training

Ofsted have published their third annual report concerning the quality of initial training for further education teachers. The latest report was compiled from inspections undertaken in 2006/07, using a sample of 26 colleges nationwide.

The report stated that the majority of trainees had been able to reach a satisfactory or better standard in their teaching. Ofsted felt that these trainees were planning their lessons effectively, and in better cases were making use of stimulating activities and a variety of resources.

Most trainees were found to be suitably qualified, showed commitment to ensuring achievement in their students, and that they were sensitive to different social and economic backgrounds. When asked to justify their decisions in lesson planning, most trainees were able to show a good understanding of principles for teaching and learning. The majority were also demonstrating sound assessment practices when monitoring their students.

As with previous reports, Ofsted expressed some concern regarding the development of the trainees” subject-specialist knowledge. Inspectors thought this area was not always being effectively supported by the mentoring system, and as a result trainees could fall short of achieving their full potential.

Other issues raised included the observation that some trainees, who were based outside the training institute (often in work-based learning positions), received less effective mentoring. It was also noted that, while trainees were usually evaluated regularly, monitoring tended not to result in clear action points for trainees to improve upon.

The report said that taught courses were well planned and this was reflected by trainees” confident use of theory in their teaching. Taught courses were found to meet the needs of the trainees with different subject-specialisms. However, one criticism that Ofsted made was that courses were often too narrow and did not allow trainees to experience teaching at different levels, or with other age groups.

The teacher trainers were generally planning their provision carefully and modelling good practices. In the best cases, a broad range of teaching experience was being provided by other college staff. Inspectors thought that there had been a slight improvement in the assessment of trainees over previous years.

Ofsted offered several recommendations for improvement. These included giving higher priority to the development of subject-specialist knowledge. They wanted to see improvements to mentoring by providing more feedback to trainees, and an earlier focus on managing challenging behaviour in lessons.

Paul Malbon

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