Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers (SCETT) (OFS 11)

  Roy Beardsworth, the Academic Secretary of SCETT, has passed to me your letter concerning the Education and Skills Committee meeting with HM Chief Inspector, Mike Tomlinson. As the current chair of SCETT, I have said that I will send a reply. This note raises some general points about OFSTED, and also some issues specific to the Teacher Education Division, which is the specific concern of SCETT's work.

    —  SCETT would like to see OFSTED work making considerable improvements in public accountability and in relation to the democratic process in the following ways:

    periodic reviews (annual)

    performance targets

    success criteria

    stakeholder satisfaction indices & stakeholder participation

    demonstrable value added

    reduction in bureaucracy targets


    —  To this end, we urge the Select Committee to call for a Royal Commission that will consider:

      —  the extent to which judgments are fair and accurate

      —  the value for money represented by OFSTED inspections.

    —  The OFSTED role in relation to quality assurance with providers of teacher education should be formative and developmental rather than judgmental and largely summative: it should place greater emphasis on helping to provide support and encouragement to the improvement of quality in teacher education.

    —  OFSTED should engage in an evaluation and review of the inspection regime which links inspection grades with funding and student numbers. Recognising that there is a statutory requirement for a link between funding and quality, we nevertheless argue that, apart from unsatisfactory provision, there should NOT be a direct connexion between inspection findings and student numbers. The present system has led, over the past few years, to a destabilisation of teacher education, rather than to an overall improvement in quality.

    —  There should be a consideration of ways of bringing the OFSTED approach to quality assurance, through their inspection methodology, into harmony with the other quality assurance mechanisms and approaches in Higher Education, and particularly the work done by the QAA.

Alan Cousins


November 2001

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