Concern by Estyn over teacher training quality at centre

Teacher Literacy and numeracy are the big priority for the Welsh government

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Concerns have been raised about the quality of teaching at one of Wales' three teacher training colleges.

Education inspector Estyn said tutors at the South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education and Training did not give students enough guidance on how to teach literacy and numeracy.

Estyn said it could lead to a lack of planning by student teachers to help pupils in those two areas.

The centre said it was disappointed with some of the findings.

The centre is shared between two universities, Cardiff Metropolitan and the University of South Wales, but according to Estyn the two institutions do not work together well enough.

Inspectors deemed the current performance of the centre as adequate but considered its leadership and management and its prospects for improvement as unsatisfactory.

In the report, the centre was considered good at getting most trainees towards meeting the standards for Qualified Teacher Status.

It also highlighted the positive attitudes to learning by the trainees and their sound knowledge, and it considered the teaching of the undergraduate primary programme to be of good quality.

Action plan

But it said that a minority of mentors were overly generous in the grades they awarded trainees and that in many cases trainees were not given enough guidance on how to help pupils improve literacy and numeracy skills, and the planning aspect of these subjects.

It said that the centre was unsatisfactory in its strategic direction and leaders across the centre did not have a secure enough understanding of the quality of training needed.

The role of the governors in developing the centre was also considered to be undeveloped.

Estyn made seven recommendations in its report about the centre and has asked for an action plan to be drawn up.

The centre will be re-inspected in a year's time.

A spokesperson for the centre said while it welcomed the inspection it was disappointed by some of the findings.

"Estyn recognises that the centre complies with Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw) requirements and that 'strengths outweigh areas for improvement' in current performance," the spokesperson said.

"National datasets published by Hefcw and quoted in the inspection report clearly show that the centre outperforms the rest of teacher training in Wales in three out of the four categories.

"In response to Estyn's recommendations, the centre is committed to ensuring that high quality student experience continues to be at the forefront in its future development, and we are looking forward to implementing our action plan to meet the challenges that Estyn has raised."

'Highly qualified'

Teaching unions like NUT Cymru said they were not unduly concerned about the findings of the report and said that standards remained high.

The unions insist teachers are more highly qualified than ever before as the requirements to get on to teacher training courses are tougher. There is also scope to study for a masters of education.

But the report also raises other questions.

While Estyn inspects the courses to make sure they deliver what they say they will, nobody oversees the content of those courses.

Plaid Cymru's education spokesperson Simon Thomas said more needed to be done to ensure teachers were taught what was needed.

"There are aspects of this that need looking at but we also need to bear in mind that initial teacher training is just that - initial," he said.

"Once the teacher's left college he or she should be also be supported and have ongoing professional development and support in the classroom to improve their teaching ability and experience."

But he added: "What we need to be clear about in Wales is yes we need the very high standards when you go on to the course and yes we need the very high standards of the teachers.

"We also need to learn from best practice in England and in Scotland the ways we support teachers when they leave college.

"I'm concerned many teachers leave teacher training, go straight into supply teaching which is a clear choice for some and they don't get any professional development in that way.

"So there are concerns about how skilled some of our teachers are."

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