Ofsted proposes new 'quality of education and training' judgment for ITE

Ofsted wants to introduce a new “quality of education and training” judgment for its inspections of initial teacher education partnerships, according to a consultation launched today.

The watchdog also wants to switch from a two-stage to one-stage model of inspection, meaning partnerships will only be visited once for a four-day, on-site inspection, and only during the spring or summer term.

Ofsted has published its draft plans for a new initial teacher education inspection framework. The proposed shake-up inspection of ITE to bring it into line with the new school inspection regime were announced last year.

Like the new education inspection framework, which came into effect last September, the new ITE framework will see Ofsted’s focus move away from outcomes to focus on the content of what is taught.

The three current judgments – ‘outcomes for trainees’, ‘quality of training’ and ‘leadership and management’ – will be replaced with two new judgments: ‘quality of education and training’, and a revised ‘leadership and management’ judgment which places greater emphasis on “how well leaders translate their ambitions into consistently high-quality education for trainees”.

Ofsted has also proposed a new methodology for gathering inspection evidence, which will be “relatively in line” with the deep-dive methodology employed in schools under the new education inspection framework.

Whereas in the past visits to trainees focused on their delivery of teaching, the new visits will be used to see “how trainees are implementing the centrally-taught ITE programme”.

“Observation of mentor feedback and discussions with mentors will allow inspectors to check how well the centrally taught programme is known and embedded by mentors,” the consultation document states.

“Inspectors will continue, as in the past, to meet trainees to discuss their training experiences. However, there will be a greater focus on how centre-delivered and school-based training have blended to create a coherent experience for trainees.”

A new “one-stage” model of inspection is also proposed.

At present, inspectors visit twice, once in the summer term when trainees are in their final term of training, and again in the autumn, once trainees have begun their NQT year.

Under the new framework, Ofsted is proposing that it will conduct four days of on-site inspection within a single week, “including time for inspectors to visit partnership settings, schools and/or colleges”.

Ofsted said that under the current system, it is “difficult to attribute strengths or weaknesses to an ITE partnership”. The admission comes after research by the inspectorate found that outcome measures are not an effective indicator of the quality of initial teacher education, because the recruitment landscape means trainees are likely to get a job regardless of the quality of their training.

However, Ofsted said meetings and discussions with NQTs will continue during inspections, though they will not “dictate the structure and model of inspection”.

Under the new framework, the notice period given to partnerships before an inspection will increase from two working days to three, so that “more detailed planning conversations” can take place between inspectors and partnership representatives.

Finally, Ofsted is proposing that no ITE inspections will take place in the autumn term because of “consistent” feedback showing that ITE inspections are “difficult to carry out, in terms of gathering sufficient evidence” at that point in the year.

The watchdog is proposing that new inspections will begin in the spring term 2021 “and will only take place across the spring and summer terms of an academic year”.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, said: “The new framework reflects the shift in focus of our education inspections from outcomes to the substance of education.

“It removes aspects of inspection that do not genuinely assess the quality of teacher training. This will help make sure ITE partnerships’ are focused on the things that have the greatest impact on trainees’ education and, ultimately, children and young people.”