Ofsted: ITE curriculums not ‘sufficiently ambitious’, and 5 other findings

Too few initial teacher education (ITE) partnerships have a “sufficiently ambitious” curriculum for their trainees, and “too many” are over-reliant on school placements to teach content, Ofsted has warned.

The inspectorate has today released research and analysis on teacher training during Covid-19.

Ofsted was due to begin inspecting ITE partnerships under its new framework from January, but its plans were suspended due to the third lockdown.

Instead, Ofsted used the spring term to research how partnerships responded to the pandemic and how the curriculum has changed since the new framework was unveiled.

The findings are based on remote visits and conversations with 75 ITE partnerships – 30 per cent of the sector.

Here are the main findings.


1. Partnerships lack ambitious ITE curriculum

Ofsted found “too few partnerships” had a “sufficiently ambitious” ITE curriculum for their trainees.

institute of teaching teacher trainingThe DfE’s new core content framework (CCF), released in 2019, set out a minimum entitlement for trainee teachers.

While all partnership leaders were aware of the CCF, most had not yet fully incorporated it into their ITE curriculum plans, Ofsted found.

A “small number” of partnerships could demonstrate that they had fully incorporated the CCF, but “very few had designed a curriculum that was more ambitious than this minimum entitlement”.

Ofsted also found “many partnerships” were incorrectly relying on the teachers’ standards, a summative assessment tool, as the basis of their curriculum design.


2. There’s an over-reliance on placements…

The watchdog found too many partnerships relied “too heavily on placement experiences for learning the curriculum”.

Some providers’ curriculums contained “very little subject specific content” which meant the quality of education depended “mainly on what happened during school or college placements”.

This also meant trainees were sometimes asked to teach subjects before they had any training in them at all.


3. … which has left ITE sector ‘vulnerable to impact of Covid-19’

This “placement-reliant” approach by some partnerships meant the ITE sector has been left “particularly vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19”, Ofsted warned.

This is because the pandemic has “significantly narrowed the range of teaching experiences trainees have had”. The government has accepted that some trainees will have had their time available to undertake practical teaching experience “significantly curtailed”.

Ofsted said trainees were particularly behind in their experience of managing behaviour, and many in primary have had limited experience of teaching early reading.


4. Onus on trainees to highlight learning gaps

Ofsted also found in some cases mentors “relied on trainees” to let them know what they had already learned and what they wanted to work on.

The research found this was particularly apparent in early years and primary where “learning the fundamentals of phase and subject is essential.”


5. Remote learning has improved equality of access…

The use of remote learning has improved equality of access to the ITE curriculum, Ofsted found.

For example, technology has allowed trainees to keep learning despite additional commitments such as childcare.

It has also meant visiting speakers were “easier to attract because there is no travel time”, resulting in more trainees learning from those with specific expertise.

The inspectorate also found remote learning had “stimulated deeper and more connected thinking about the ITE curriculum”.


6. …but trainees will likely need additional support

However, Ofsted found that “despite the best efforts of many partnerships”, trainees have had a very different ITE experience and “too few have been able to have the full, rounded education that they would normally”.

In general, trainees have not had the opportunity to develop classroom management skills, and as a result Ofsted believes they will “likely require some additional support next year and possible further into the future”.

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