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Flexible postgraduate teacher training courses are proving to be a ...
Flexible postgraduate teacher training courses are proving to be a

popular alternative route into teaching. But in a new report

published this week, Ofsted inspectors warn that weaknesses in the

training programme are preventing a minority of trainee teachers

reaching their full potential.

Flexible Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training has found the numbers

on flexible training courses has risen from 657 in 2000/01 when they

were first introduced, to 2,356 in 2003/04. This route is a favourite

choice for many people with children or commitments preventing them

from completing a full-time PGCE course.

The survey rated four fifths of training placements as good or very

good and inspectors described the schools involved as committed, with

experienced staff. The selection process was also praised for its

rigour in ensuring all trainees are of a high standard.

However, while all trainees seen are making satisfactory progress

towards achieving Qualified Teacher Status, many are not reaching the

highest possible standards because of flaws in the training


The initial training plans developed at the start of the course are

often a weak feature, with only a quarter being good and a third

rating unsatisfactory. Inspectors noted the quality of school based

training is too varied and quality assurance was commonly another

weak area of the training programme.

Chief inspector David Bell said:

'I'm pleased at how successful flexible postgraduate teacher training

has been in recruiting talented people whose circumstances prevent

them from taking a standard full- time course to become a qualified


'Today's report praises the high quality of trainees and recognises

their commitment and enthusiasm.

'However, the recommendations in this report must be taken seriously

to improve the standard of provision and enable all trainees to reach

their full potential.'

The following recommendations were made to ensure flexible training

is of a consistently high quality:

- the initial assessment of trainees must be rigorous to ensure that

their flexible training programme meets their individual needs and

meets the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) standards;

- trainees must receive a detailed training plan, which presents them

with a clear and manageable programme of training, including

teaching experience;

- all tutors should be provided with the necessary time to make

sufficient and effective visits to trainees during their school


- school-based trainers should be aware of the structure and

requirements of the whole training programme and are fully trained

and supported by the provider in training, monitoring and assessing

the trainees;

- everyone involved in the training should have a good understanding

of the final assessment procedures;

- rigorous quality assurance and evaluation are required for all

aspects of the provision, and it is necessary to ensure that

evidence arising from this is used to help make improvements in the


Mr Bell concluded:

'It is clear that the flexible training courses mostly place trainees

in good quality placements. I hope that training providers will now

secure the necessary improvements so that all these trainees have

rigorous programmes that prepare them fully for the classroom.'


1. Flexible Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses were

introduced by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) in October 2000 as a

new route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The courses provide an

alternative, more flexible, route to becoming a teacher. On

completion of their training, trainees must demonstrate that they

meet the standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), in the same

way as trainees on other courses.

2. The report Flexible Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training

summarises the findings from a survey of providers. As part of the

survey HMI visited 12 providers of flexible ITT, eight of which

offered secondary training, three offered primary training and one

covered both phases.

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