ITT providers ‘alarmingly selling specific pedagogies’ as ‘be all and end all’, Ofsted says

Some initial teacher training providers inspected under the new Ofsted framework were “misinforming trainees” by teaching them only specific pedagogies, a senior inspector has said.

Out of 26 ITT inspections since May, more than half have been rated as less than ‘good’. Previously, all ITT providers were all ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’

Helen Matthews, a senior inspector, explained what the watchdog found at ‘less than good’ providers at the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) conference today.

She said “rather alarmingly” there were providers “selling specific pedagogies” as the “be all and end all, the gold standard”.

She added: “Rather than actually teaching trainees that there are lots of pedagogies out there… what we found sometimes which was actually quite alarming is where partnerships had chosen a particular pedagogy – and I use Bloom’s as an example – and basically were selling this to their trainees so that everything the trainees did… had to be around the pedagogy of Bloom’s.”

Bloom’s taxonomy is an educational theory that looks at cognitive, affective and sensory learning.

Matthews added: “That clearly is actually misinforming trainees and many of you will know that actually a lot of Bloom’s theories have actually been discredited.”

Matthews did not name the providers that were doing this.

But Ofsted reports analysed by Schools Week show some providers were criticised for not teaching up-to-date research.

A report on Consillium SCITT, which went from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’ and has since shut down, says that leaders “do not ensure that trainees know about up-to-date educational research”.

“They are not introduced to the key issues that are debated within subject and phase communities.”

At Cumbria Teacher Training, which went from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’, Ofsted said the programme “does not focus sufficiently on up-to-date research and relevant debates within subject communities and age-phases”.

“This means that trainees are poorly served by their training programme. Leaders should make sure that all aspects of the programme give trainees a secure understanding of relevant research about key curriculum developments and subject-pedagogical issues.”

In remote research earlier this year of 75 ITE partnerships, Ofsted claimed that some ITE curriculums are “underpinned by outdated or discredited theories of education”.

However, when asked by Education Uncovered how many ITEs this referred to, Ofsted said it did not have the information requested.

‘Lack of cohesion’ at some providers

Ofsted also saw a “tick box approach” where the core content framework had been “superficially implemented” in some inspections, Matthews said.

She said there was a “lack of cohesion” about what was being taught at the centre, and what was actually happening on placements.

Also, sometimes leaders’ self-evaluations of programmes “weren’t perhaps as realistic as they thought they might be”.

On the flipside, Matthews said they found strengths such as high quality academic and pastoral support and a coherent learning experience for trainees.

As Schools Week revealed, some providers claimed that there was “no acknowledgment” of Covid. Ratings have dropped in 13 of 19 school-aged training providers since inspections returned in the spring.

Out of these, seven were previously ‘outstanding’. Only one – Sutton SCITT – kept this grade.

But Matthews said that these outcomes “are not necessarily representative of the sector as a whole” and not “representative of what Ofsted think the sector is”.

She said many of the summer inspections were new providers or those that hadn’t been inspected for a “very long time”.

“Although we did a number of them and they came out at a variety of outcome grades, actually they are certainly not what we think will potentially be representative moving forward.”

In relation to any changes coming out of the ITT market review, Matthews added: “Just to reassure colleagues from Ofsted’s perspective there won’t be any changing goal posts as far as our inspection regime is concerned.”

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  1. If only Ms. Matthews would share her expertise and insights beyond ‘said conference’, all of us could benefit.

    The cost to attend NASBTT for members will be £125.00 per delegate.

    I would also be keen to learn how Ofsted select which conferences to attend and how they ensure taxpayer cash is regurgitated freely to all across the secotr.

  2. Dominic Wall

    The HMI speaker appears to be seeing the world only in monochrome when she states “many of you will know that actually a lot of Bloom’s theories have actually been discredited”.
    Bloom’s work presents models for teachers and others working in child development to consider, nothing more. These ideas may have had greater traction in the past, they may even have ‘fallen out of favour’ recently, but that is because we know more stuff about brains now.
    Describing this as becoming “discredited” is not pushing the professional dialogue forward, but rather asserting some sort of bogus hierarchical authority of knowledge on the basis of possessing a big shiny badge.
    Coming from the same people that traduced Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital in order to shoehorn it into the inspection framework and then use it to justify a singular model of cultural agency, I shouldn’t be surprised.
    Pierre Bourdieu was himself a Marxist; I’ve that’s pretty discredited nowadays.

  3. Marcus Hill

    You can’t give a single pedagogy as the universal best, you say? Try putting the genuine discussion between direct instruction and experimental/discovery learning in front of the trainees, or looking at critiques of SSP, and see how that goes. Ofsted’s own so-called “research reviews” have been widely criticised for their cherry-picking and misuse of evidence to back their own preferred pedagogies. They may want to step outside that glass house before lobbing those bricks.