Response to draft Ofsted Initial Teacher Education Inspection Framework consultation

Posted by boo11 at Apr 22, 2020 12:35 PM |
Ofsted invited responses to their proposals for changes to the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) framework. The framework will be published in summer 2020. The English Association’s Primary and Secondary Education Committees responded to the consultation as follows; thank you to Dr Penny Amott and Dr Joan Foley for their work on this response.

Primary Phase

The English Association supports the use of systematic synthetic phonics teaching as part of a broad and balanced approach to the teaching of early reading. The 2019 Ofsted ‘Education inspection framework: Overview of research’ is clear that ‘Phonics is only one component of learning to read’ (p. 21). This is supported also by the National Curriculum for English Programmes of Study that highlight both word recognition and comprehension and state ‘It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions’. International perspectives also highlight growing concerns related to the importance of developing positive reading behaviours and attitudes that foster reading for pleasure (e.g. PIRLS 2016).

We are therefore concerned by the wording of two specific statements in the draft Ofsted ITE Inspection Framework that are somewhat ambiguous, open to interpretation and contradict statements in the Ofsted research findings:

  • ‘Designed around subject and phase - Good’ (p. 31, second bullet point): “For primary phase, training will ensure that trainees learn to teach early reading using systematic synthetic phonics as outlined in the ITT core content framework and that trainees are not taught to use competing approaches to early reading that are not supported by the most up-to-date evidence.”
  • ‘Designed around subject and phase - Inadequate’ (p. 44, first bullet point): “Primary training does not ensure that trainees only learn to teach early reading using systematic synthetic phonics.”

We suggest that minor adjustments to these statements might enable Ofsted to ensure ITE providers support the effective teaching of reading in a measured way regarding evidence-informed approaches:

  • Good: “For primary phase, training will ensure that trainees learn to teach early reading using systematic synthetic phonics as outlined in the ITT core content framework and that trainees are taught to use approaches to early reading that draw on the most up-to-date research evidence.”
  • Inadequate: “Primary training does not ensure that trainees understand the importance of teaching early reading using systematic synthetic phonics.”

Secondary Phase

The Secondary Committee broadly welcomed the approaches of the new Framework. However, in considering the Framework across phases we would wish to signal a concern about the seeming lack of opportunity for critical thinking in course design. References to ‘best evidence research’ are problematic. Who decides what ‘best evidence ‘means?  We are concerned, too, about the Framework’s proscribed content e.g. in the teaching of reading. We would argue that this is counter to the Masters level requirements of PGCE courses in which we aim to foster critical, research-led and reflective practice in those new to the profession such that they are able to consider alternative pedagogies and evaluate their potential effectiveness.

We support the notion that ‘quality education’ is supported by and rooted in robust subject knowledge. We are concerned, however, that there is a tension between this and the instruction from DfE to consider applications to ITE courses from those who do not have degrees directly related to their proposed subject teaching.

Links: Initial teacher education inspection framework and handbook 2020: inspecting the quality of teacher education


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