Ofsted will assess applications to judge which teacher training providers make the grade for reaccreditation, leading to warnings the involvement creates a “conflict of interest”.
Schools Week can reveal that Ofsted will join the Department for Education in assessing reaccreditation applications.
James Noble-Rogers, the executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said it was “clearly a risk of a conflict of interest”.
Ofsted would “in effect be inspecting the quality of its own decision taking,” he said. “Issues concerned with accreditation should be kept separate from those of quality.
“The Department for Education will of course need some specialist input into the accreditation process, but that cannot come from Ofsted.”
In a “frequently asked questions” document, seen by Schools Week, the DfE said “applications for accreditation would be assessed by DfE officials, supported by Ofsted”.
It added: “This assessment will be based on the content of applications against the questions and scoring criteria and will not take into account Ofsted inspection outcomes from the current inspection cycle.”
But the DfE went further, saying Ofsted would “assess” the applications. This would be based on individual merits, and assessments would be moderated to ensure the scoring criteria were fairly and consistently applied.
Concerns over conflict of interest
The DfE claimed there was “no conflict of interest in Ofsted supporting with applications”.
However, provider representatives have warned about the overlap – with Ofsted also responsible for grading provision.
Emma Hollis, the executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NABSTT), said its members had raised concerns about the “potential” conflicts.
The organisation has asked the DfE for “reassurance” that applications would be blind reviewed – meaning they would be anonymous before being scored.
“We believe that this will ensure a fair, open and transparent process which will mitigate any potential risk around bias, whether perceived or actual.”
In a consultation of the reforms, the government said it anticipated “significant market reconfiguration”. There are currently about 230 teacher training providers.
But in its response last week, the DfE said it recognised “the importance of enabling providers of different types and sizes, and in different contexts, to operate in the market”.
The department has delayed the implementation of the reforms by a year, and added a second accreditation round.
But smaller providers have warned that with only nine weeks – including two for Christmas – until the first deadline, the timeframe is too short.
Noble-Rogers told schools minister Robin Walker in a letter that in more than 30 years he had never seen ITT colleagues “faced with such pressure” and that “things are at breaking point”.
The DfE said the ITT application process and Ofsted’s inspections would remain separate. Ofsted did not respond to a request for comment.