Education Bill: consultation analysis

The independent analysis by Wellside of responses to the consultation on the Education (Scotland) Bill, commissioned by the Scottish Government.

4. Operational and Other General Issues

Across the consultation questions, many respondents highlighted and discussed more general operational and practical issues linked to qualifications and inspections (rather than focusing on the proposals that had been set out in the consultation document). This included consideration of how the NQB and inspectorate should operate and be staffed, as well as more general comments related to the nature and delivery of qualifications, assessments, and inspections. These comments are collated and presented below.

New Qualifications Body

Respondents provided considerable discussion of the assessment structure and potential for change, practicalities associated with the verification of qualifications, the need for stakeholder involvement and engagement, the need for collaborative working, and possible additional roles or tasks that the NQB should fulfil. They also gave a range of other, more general comments related to the NQB.

Qualification Assessment Structure

Mixed views were expressed in relation to the use of exams, the portion of any final qualification dedicated to an exam or alternative assessment methods, and the range of choice available to pupils/students in this regard.

A large proportion of respondents who discussed this issue (including some event attendees) felt that, within qualifications, a greater proportion of the final mark should be based on ongoing or block/unit level assessment, coursework, project work, practical assessment, presentations, and portfolios, with less emphasis on the final exam. Others suggested removing high stakes final exams entirely. It was argued that this would make qualifications more accessible, provide a better and fairer reflection of a pupil’s/student’s ability, and was more in line with college and university assessments, where many courses were said to have already removed or reduced the emphasis on final closed book exams.

Others, however, preferred assessments in the form of rigorous and challenging exams (including introducing these for National 4s which currently do not include a final exam). It was felt that exams provide a national standard, prevent bias, maintain integrity, and provide high quality status and recognition of qualifications.

A few respondents suggested there should be a choice of assessment method in order to ensure qualifications are accessible and appropriate for all pupils and students, while others felt that assessment methods should be considered and developed to be suitable for each subject/course.

While many did not express any preference for the use of internal or external assessments, there were mixed views among those who did. Most individuals who expressed a preference supported external assessment in order to ensure robustness of the system and reduce the burden on teachers. A few did, however, feel that teachers should have at least some input to the assessment and marking/ grading of their pupils. On the other hand, organisations who discussed this issue tended to want to see greater trust being placed in teaching professionals’ judgement and more ongoing use and development of the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) which was used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was also a perception among a few respondents that pupils are currently over-assessed, and that changes should include reducing the amount of assessment that occurs:

“Learners in Scotland are amongst the most heavily examined in the world. There is a need to reduce the number of formal examinations, while still retaining those most appropriate to the subject matter in hand.” (Trade Union/Professional Representative Body)

Providing a range of assessment methods was suggested, including typed assessments and designing and developing digital assessment using modern techniques and IT packages. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was also discussed, both as something which needed to be recognised and harnessed appropriately, but also as a risk to project based work, assignments, etc.

Qualification Verification Processes

Respondents discussed the practicalities of the verification process for qualifications and how they thought the NQB should conduct this.

Several respondents felt that the way qualifications were accredited currently was sufficient and appropriate, and so wanted these methods to be carried over to the NQB.

Others, however, wanted to see the system redesigned, while many respondents simply outlined the various steps/elements which they felt should be incorporated in any accreditation model (without discussing whether these represented ‘new’ or a continuation of existing elements). The main recurring elements included:

  • utilising or developing an overarching framework which maps all available qualifications, their relationships to one another, levels, etc. (with most suggesting the continued use of the SCQF);
  • developing national standards in liaison with stakeholders and rolling out awareness raising/training on this across the teaching profession;
  • implementing a process of internal and external verification and validation through audits, inspections, regional officer visits, online meetings, sampling, pupil evaluations, and the use of feedback loops. These approaches were also suggested as useful for monitoring the delivery of qualifications;
  • moderation, both within and across establishments/local authorities, in setting and marking assessments/exams was also considered to be important; and
  • a few respondents felt that the central marking system was a useful/positive mechanism for quality assurance, and should be retained.

Respondents also discussed the need to establish a clear and robust quality assurance framework - utilising the same framework across all qualifications to ensure consistency, efficiency and equitable standards. Some also stressed the need to ensure greater continuity and consistency in delivery standards between schools/educational establishments.

Stakeholder Engagement Methods

In addition to Board and Committee representation (as discussed at Q2 and Q3), it was also felt important that both teaching professionals and pupils and students were engaged and involved in the NQB in a wider manner, with a robust framework established to ensure meaningful and inclusive ongoing stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

Specific suggestions for engagement with teaching professionals, proposed by individuals and a range of organisation types, included:

  • maintaining teacher involvement in designing/setting exams;
  • regular feedback loops, engagement and consultation activities, including using digital channels and online forums, questionnaires, and pro-active direct in-school discussions and focus groups for teachers to make comments/ provide suggestions and feedback;
  • creating or tapping into existing area and/or subject specific committees/ groups;
  • establishing a rotating panel to sit on a Steering/Working Group; and
  • seconding teachers into the agency for fixed periods.

Suggested approaches for wider (or alternative) engagement with pupils and students included:

  • surveys;
  • an online feedback/interactive learner facility;
  • utilising social media;
  • local, school or subject based meetings/discussions/assemblies/focus groups/Q&A sessions;
  • conducting establishment level consultation exercises;
  • tapping into existing pupil/student councils and/or the SCQF School Ambassador Programme;
  • establishing cluster/local authority/regional pupil groups, working groups or learner panels;
  • developing a national forum; and
  • using ‘exit’ interviews or surveys to gain views of qualifications.

A range of agencies were also suggested which could be involved in either facilitating direct access to pupils and students, or who could act as conduit for their views. These included the Scottish Youth Parliament, the Children’s Parliament, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Young Scot, Youth Scotland, the Pupil Parliament, student partnerships in quality Scotland (sparqs), Community Learning and Development (CLD), and Skills Development Scotland (SDS). More specialist agencies were also suggested to support access to and gather views from minority groups, those with disabilities, neurodivergent young people, etc.

Several respondents also felt that parents and carers needed to be involved in, and invited to contribute their views to, the NQB.

Working Collaboratively and Inviting Stakeholder Involvement

Respondents felt that the new qualifications body needed to develop an open culture to invite and accept feedback, reflection and regular evaluation in order to ensure both it and its qualifications remained agile and responsive, and to ensure that qualifications could be updated quickly and efficiently when required:

“A culture of being open around reflection and evaluation - if the profession tells you something is not working or an element of a qualification is not up to standard, then the ability to listen to this and make changes is crucial. This is an agile way of working that acknowledges the needs of learners and teachers may alter and therefore, the qualification may need tweaked from time to time.” (Individual)

It was also noted that close links and collaboration with curriculum development, innovation and establishment based practice was needed in order to ensure the curriculum drives the assessment, and not the other way around.

In particular, was considered important to involve teachers/lecturers in the NQB’s decisions at all stages, including the design, delivery, monitoring and review of qualifications, as well as to inform policy and practice development. Specific points where consultation with the profession would be required included when planning to update or change subjects or assessments; to discuss proposed qualifications/ assessments and how these could be delivered; to understand possible challenges and opportunities and what can be practically managed within schools/ establishments; and throughout any research, planning, testing and implementation stages of new systems/plans. Several respondents stressed the need for engagement to happen early enough in any decision making and design process to allow feedback to meaningfully inform the outcomes.

More generally, several respondents felt that a more joined up approach needed to be taken, not just by the NQB, but across the whole education system. It was felt this was essential for several reasons, including:

  • to avoid duplication of roles and responsibilities; aims, visions and policies; and work/effort;
  • to tackle transition issues and provide a more joined up approach to learning across the different ages and stages;
  • to focus on pupil’s and student’s needs, pathways, progression and success, as well as removing any barriers;
  • to develop a consistent/national skills framework and better link all qualifications so these can be compared, understood and used to build a portfolio of interlinked qualifications (ideally using the existing SCQF model);
  • to ensure all ages and educational stages are represented and considered, and that agencies are working towards the same aims; and
  • to allow a wide range of individual pupil and student pathways to be developed and for true parity of esteem to be achieved between different pathways/qualifications, as well as parity of access.

A few respondents also wanted to see greater data sharing protocols set up across the education sector to better facilitate collaboration.

It was also suggested that greater clarity was required around the roles and responsibilities of all organisations, both education and skills based as well as wider stakeholders. This was felt to be needed in order to provide clarity across the sector and facilitate effective joint working:

“Legislation will provide some clarity for the new qualifications body, the education agency and the new inspectorate but reform needs to encompass the roles and responsibilities of schools…, colleges, universities, training providers, local authorities, other public bodies… and the funding agencies, and other partners… Only by being clear about the roles and responsibilities of each can we properly map the touchpoints, overlaps, opportunities for streamlining and points of shared responsibility.” (Awarding Body)

Additional Roles for the NQB

Several respondents felt the NQB needed to include research to inform evidence-based decision making, develop learning, and identify educational gaps and trends. Drawing international comparisons was also considered to be important to develop understanding of alternative models. This latter suggestion was also important to ensure the Scottish education and qualification system was comparable in terms of quality with UK and international settings and would achieve global recognition.

It was also suggested across a few of the events that the NQB should provide high quality and user friendly advice, teaching materials and assessments, and should focus on delivering high standards, credibility, and public confidence.

Training for Teaching Staff

Another common issue identified and discussed by respondents was a need for increased training opportunities/materials and continuous professional development (CPD)/career long professional learning (CLPL) for teaching staff. Specific suggestions included opening up any equivalent to Understanding Standards sessions to more people, providing annual training for all subjects, and mandatory training for staff on all new courses and assignments to ensure consistency between schools/establishments.

Awareness Raising of Any Qualification Changes

In line with comments at Chapter 2, greater communication and awareness raising was again said to be required to ensure everyone was aware of the breadth and value of qualifications available. This included schools/teachers, learners, parents/carers, further and higher education, and employers. In particular, however, it was said more needed to be done to ensure universities would accept a broader range of qualifications as part of their entry requirements.

Other Comments

A wide range of other, more general, comments were also provided. These related to both the structure of qualifications and the NQB, including:

  • review the appeals process which was considered to be limited in its applicability and use;
  • review and consider alternative approaches to qualifications used by other countries - those mentioned specifically included Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, individual states within USA, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and Wales;
  • recognise and accredit meta-skills, and introduce the use of micro-credentials;
  • provide qualifications with adaptable content to ensure they can be locally/ regionally tailored or updated to incorporate subject developments or address emerging skills or markets;
  • that robust, strong moderation is needed between schools/establishments;
  • provide greater consistency in assessments within subjects between years, and in the grades awarded to similarly skilled learners between subjects and across years;
  • conduct an audit of all existing qualifications;
  • that accreditation of qualifications should take a teacher and learner centred approach;
  • reduce dependence on external appointees within the NQB and move to a system of internal staff being responsible for accreditation; and
  • ensure high quality, well trained and experienced staff are employed by the NQB.

Other comments or suggestions which applied more generally across the education sector included:

  • review the curriculum and Curriculum for Excellence and address the disjoint between qualifications and the Broad General Education (BGE) phase;
  • focus on improving the basics, e.g. reading, writing and maths;
  • provide parity of esteem between different subjects and qualification types;
  • remove the use of school league tables and consider alternative mechanisms for monitoring success; and
  • too many organisations exist within or have a remit for education, with overlap in roles and responsibilities - it was argued that this issue was not solved/ tackled by the current proposals.

Reform of Education Inspection

Across the consultation questions that focused on inspections and the creation of a new inspection agency, respondents again often discussed more practical and operational elements of the inspection process rather than answering the specific questions that were set. The main comments that were made are outlined below.

A More Supportive and Collaborative Approach to Inspections

The main issue raised repeatedly by respondents in relation to the focus of inspections and how these are conducted, was the need for inspections to be more supportive overall, and to focus on improvement rather than scrutiny.

It was felt that the role of the new inspectorate should be a supportive one, regardless of who is being inspected, and that the burden on those being inspected should be minimised (especially where organisations are also quality assured by other bodies).

Several respondents called for the inspection process to include more peer assessment and self-evaluation either alongside external inspection, while others wanted to move towards a more innovative and system-led validated self-evaluation model.

In addition, several respondents highlighted a preference/need for more collaborative inspection approaches, where inspectors work closely with institutions to support continuous improvement:

“We advocate for a more collaborative and cooperative approach between schools and the inspectorate to foster improvement. We believe that the inspection process should be an integral part of a school's continuous improvement journey, involving carefully planned and strategically thought-out work over time. Collaboration with partners who can offer detailed insights and support is crucial to enhancing the day-to-day experience of our young people.” (Trade union/professional representative body)

Practical Conduct of Inspections

Throughout the questions on inspections and the creation of a new inspectorate agency, respondents outlined their preferences around how inspections themselves should be conducted. A wide range of comments and suggestions were provided, including:

  • remove unannounced visits (although this was not a unanimous view, with some considering unannounced visits to be important);
  • further develop and expand on the quality assurance role of local authorities to work in partnership with the new inspectorate;
  • more partnership working between school leaders and the inspection agency to review approaches to preparing for inspection, to increase capacity, and aid understanding of the process;
  • give senior leaders within establishments a more active role in inspections;
  • actively seek and incorporate the perspectives of students and parents in the inspection process, including parents/carers/pupils having a role in nominating schools for inspection;
  • inspection should include assessment of how well institutions adapt to technological advancements and changing societal needs, and should also consider greater integration of technology/AI in the inspection process itself, including the analysis of performance metrics and data, to enhance efficiency and gather a more comprehensive dataset;
  • inspection should be aligned across all establishments and consistently/ coherently applied across all sectors and inspection teams;
  • inspections should use a wide variety of evidence (noted in events), which needs to be open, honest, and accurate, gathered over a longer period of time from pupils/students, parents/carers and teachers/educators;
  • inspections must recognise good work and added value with an emphasis on enhancement and dissemination of good practice, and the identification of areas for improvement;
  • inspections need to acknowledge the realities of each school/setting, including locality, demographics, facilities, workload, etc.;
  • establishments/local authorities should be given a link/named contact within the inspectorate who can provide ongoing post-inspection support, and/or provide follow-up visits to ensure improvements have been made and are effective;
  • conduct a higher number of inspections each year to provide a better sample to inform the system, and to ensure good practice can be identified and shared quickly;
  • improve the learning from thematic reviews; and
  • provide professional learning focused on key inspection findings/themes and best practice to support improvement.

A few respondents also suggested that alternative inspection models should be considered, including:

  • conducting inspections at local authority rather than individual school level;
  • developing models that include establishment based education professionals as integral to the inspection process;
  • developing models that include Area Lead Officers in inspections/have a focus on collaboration between the inspectorate and local authorities/local authorities taking a lead;
  • adopting a similar approach to that used in England with agencies carrying out inspection;
  • considering the college model which has removed individual evaluations of quality indicators and instead evaluates the leadership capacity for improvement/drive in self-improvement; and
  • inspections should be used as part of wider quality assurance processes/ consider the role of awarding organisations in the quality assurance process.

Respondents also outlined a range of specific issues which they felt should be considered or prioritised within inspections. These included:

  • more consideration of closing the attainment gap;
  • consider the holistic benefit of learners rather than solely looking at academic input and output, i.e. focus on pupil/student outcomes and skills, rather than number and level of qualifications;
  • prioritise keeping children and young people safe from avoidable harm/ safeguarding;
  • prioritise advancing equality and children’s rights/ensure that inspections consider the diverse needs of students and the inclusive practices adopted by education providers (including evaluating the effectiveness of strategies to address diversity in terms of culture, language, and learning abilities);
  • ensure that neurodiversity and capacity to respond to it are considered;
  • ensure that outdoor learning and learning for sustainability are actively embedded across all areas of the curriculum;
  • consider how the voices of learners are being taken into account through curriculum delivery and within the wider school community;
  • assess whether schools are providing sufficient opportunities to teachers for subject specific professional learning;
  • ensure the health, wellbeing and workload of stakeholders is considered and protected (particularly teachers, other practitioners, pupils and students, but also for parents/carers, local authorities and other providers);
  • embed trauma-informed cultures which recognise individual differences and diversity; and
  • align inspection frameworks with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It was also suggested that inspectors should have recent experience of front-line education work, and in particular, they should have experience, knowledge and understanding of working in the type of service they inspect. Respondents also stressed that inspectors must all be equalities aware.

Further, it was felt that the inspection process should be less intimidating/less stressful overall, and that findings from inspections should be fed back more frequently and used mainly at the local level. This included comments that comparison of inspections findings between areas should be removed/discouraged to ensure that findings are always considered in their local context:

“To recognise the inherent differences in attainment and progress between schools in affluent and deprived areas and for this recognition to be noted explicitly in school inspection reports.” (Individual)

As such, a flexible inspection approach was encouraged:

“Allow for flexibility in the inspection approach to accommodate the unique context and characteristics of different education providers. A one-size-fits-all approach may not capture the nuanced aspects of each institution's strengths and challenges.” (Post School Sector/College/University)

Inspection Feedback and Reports

It was felt that inspection reports should provide quality feedback, emphasise strengths and areas of good practice, areas for improvement and practical recommendations or solutions, as well as identifying resources to support the required improvements.

A common preference among respondents was for gradings to be removed from inspection reports. These were considered to be ineffective, to distract from the content of reports, and to encourage competition between establishments, whereas it was felt that more detailed and formative (rather than summative) feedback was needed, as well as greater collaboration to share practice:

“The gradings are unhelpful and evaluative statements are far more useful and based in capacity for improvement. A better way of giving clear assurance needs to be found. Single words are a blunt and easily misunderstood tool which has the power to cause untold harm as well as disproportionate praise.” (Local Authority)

Further, it was felt that inspection reports should be easily accessible in the public domain and made available to all parents as well as school/establishment staff.

Engaging and Involving Stakeholders in the Inspection Agency/Inspections

A wide range of suggestions linked to the best methods for engaging or involving stakeholders in the new inspection agency and in inspections were provided (most offered by just one or two respondents each). These included:

  • methods for engaging with stakeholders on an ongoing basis - creating an external Reference Group to support the scoping and communication of inspection approaches; regular and structured consultations with various stakeholders; using digital platforms for virtual engagement of stakeholders; introduce mechanisms for regular feedback; and
  • options for involving different groups in the inspection process - the use of parent councils; school captains/head boys/girls being involved in tours and discussions; shadowing and using young inspection volunteers; using parents as lay inspectors to gather parent/carer views; using public consultations; and collaborative face to face meetings with parents, teachers and children.

Several respondents also argued against the use of questionnaires (as used currently) as a means of capturing stakeholder input to the inspection process. They were perceived to be too prescriptive, insufficiently detailed, too rigid (i.e. one size did not fit all) and outdated. Similarly, the use of focus groups in the current model was seen as not always being representative.

The Use of Associate Assessors

An increase in Associate Assessor opportunities was welcomed as a way of reducing demand on individuals whilst building capacity in the system more generally. Indeed, several respondents felt there was scope for, and urged the greater use of Associate Assessors in the inspection process (this was important to both written respondents and event participants):

“We would also propose a greater utilisation of the role of associate assessors, particularly involving a larger proportion of current headteachers. This approach not only brings the expertise of experienced professionals into the inspection process but also facilitates the development of capacity within the education system. The active involvement of headteachers as associate assessors ensures that inspection activities are grounded in the daily realities of school leadership, fostering a more nuanced and informed evaluation.” (Trade union/professional representative body)

Joint Working and Data Sharing

Respondents highlighted the need for the new inspectorate to share good practice via a range of methods, including sharing examples during inspections, by publishing best practice reports/examples, and via professional learning. It was also suggested that the new inspectorate could facilitate publication and sharing of quality resources, model what “excellent” would look like, and share summarised college reports and findings related to CLD settings to facilitate wider learning. It was felt that best practice should be collated and disseminated by the inspectorate in a planned and consistent manner, with examples being identified and shared timeously (this was mentioned in both written responses and events).

It was also felt that the new inspectorate should work more closely/in a more collaborative and collegiate way with key stakeholders, partners and educational establishments to inform and support change on an ongoing basis, and not just by conducting a one-off inspection. Specific suggestions included participating in national committees, forums, working groups, and advisory groups, and setting up peer learning networks among educational establishments to facilitate shared learning and best practice, and policy roundtables to discuss insight from inspection reports and inform policy development.

Several respondents highlighted a need for the new inspectorate to work with and share data with other agencies/ bodies. This included setting up data sharing arrangements with the other organisations involved in quality assurance.

Accountability of the Inspection Framework

There were calls for any new inspection framework to be clearly outlined and defined to reduce/remove ambiguity and confusion from the perspective of those being inspected. Similarly, respondents felt there needed to be strengthening of the shared understanding of the difference between regulation and inspection, as well as clear and tangible measures for what accountability would look like in practice:

“There needs to be greater transparency over what constitutes accountability and how this would manifest itself.” (Individual)

“Whilst we broadly agree with the purposes, there is a need for greater clarity on what the new inspection framework will look like and what added value it will bring in terms of improvement.” (Local Authority)

A more meaningful inspection approach was also encouraged, as well as more scrutiny of the policy making process underpinning any agreed change (i.e. stronger links between inspection findings and policy and decision making overall). Indeed, it was suggested that the new inspectorate should take more responsibility for ensuring their work informs practice and policy, and that it should follow up on implementation, or that there should be a stronger link between inspection and system wide improvement. There was also a small number of calls for improved accountability of Education Scotland and the new inspection agency itself.

Sector Specific Inspection Issues

A number of sector specific comments were provided, relating to both the delivery of inspections in different settings and also commenting on the use of sector specific terminology.

In relation to Early Learning and Childcare (ELC ), it was argued that better alignment/streamlining of the Care Inspectorate and HMIe was needed for inspections of ELC settings. Several respondents stressed that there was a need to rationalise the inspection of ELC settings, with ideally one inspectorate covering this sector rather than both the Care Inspectorate and HMIe being involved. This was necessary to reduce the duplication and burden on the sector. If a dual model continued, it was felt that the inspection approach should maximise opportunities for integrated models, sharing of inspection tools and close working with between partners.

The difficulties in establishing which settings HMIe were responsible for/had a role in inspecting across the ELC sector were also highlighted, along with the disparities created by having different processes for different types of providers:

“Currently Education Scotland will report on the care of young children not receiving funded ELC. While this care is not formally evaluated as its out with Education Scotland’s scope, this can cause confusion across the sector. Legislative changes for the new inspectorate could helpfully clarify the legislative basis for inspection in specific areas.” (National Agency/Public Body)

Respondents also highlighted the need for more careful and accurate phraseology when referring to the ELC sector, i.e. avoiding use of the term ‘nursery schools’ and using ‘funded provider’ rather than ‘funded partner provider’. In addition, it was noted that the word 'childcare' was regularly used in the consultation paper to describe ELC settings but that document writers should ensure early learning or early education was used alongside childcare.

Discussion related to Modern Apprenticeships was limited, however, comments were provided around the purpose of inspections, operational inspection processes, and more general areas for consideration in relation to the delivery of Modern Apprenticeships. Due to the limited discussion of this sector, most of the issues noted below were discussed by just one respondent. It was suggested that:

  • the new inspectorate agency should evaluate the alignment of training programs with industry standards and the practical applicability of skills acquired and whether they meet evolving employer/workplace needs;
  • a more detailed and sector-specific approach would be necessary when inspecting modern apprenticeships to ensure they comply with general educational standards while also meeting business sector requirements; and
  • while being cognisant of the breadth of different establishments offering modern apprenticeships, consistency of inspection approach should be provided across different organisations.

Only a few other, more general, comments were made in relation to modern apprenticeships. These included that quality assurance arrangements should sit alongside funding responsibilities, and that the accountability and assurance for apprenticeships should be integrated into tertiary arrangements. A few suggested consideration of alternative delivery models, i.e. apprenticeships to be delivered in a modular format rather than a two year programme to make them more accessible/appealing. A final, very specifically focused comment was that a new inspectorate must deliver robust scrutiny of action to tackle gender segregation in modern apprenticeships.

In relation to Tertiary Education there was a preference for quality assurance functions to remain with the SFC/QAA and for it to be included in the remit of a single funding body working alongside Education Scotland. It was noted that, if the new inspectorate replaced existing arrangements within the Publicly Funded College sector, they would need to adopt a role wider than inspection and reporting. This would need to include external assurance on quality and to support improvement in the college sector (as is currently provided by SFC).

Overall, it was stressed that the roles of the new inspectorate, SFC, QAA and SDS would need to be reviewed to ensure a joined up system.

A range of more general comments were made in relation to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) or the operational aspects of inspection of ITE. These included:

  • that there is currently little awareness amongst teachers and school leaders of the role of the inspectorate in looking at initial teacher education and that more contact may be helpful;
  • ITE inspections should have a strong emphasis on equalities and rights to ensure that newly qualified teachers are being sufficiently equipped to confidently challenge such issues;
  • that ITE inspections should ensure that new practitioners are guided on fundamental teaching approaches as well as specific subjects;
  • that inspections look for evidence of impact on the schools that new teachers work in after qualification;
  • that inspection of ITE should report on the different approaches being adopted to enable ITE providers to learn from one another/provide a focus for improvement;
  • specific roles should be created for experienced teachers to provide ongoing mentoring support for newly qualified teachers;
  • that the quality of provision of Global Citizenship and rights-based learning could be more uniform across ITE institutions;
  • look at why numbers of applicants for ITE have reduced in recent years; and
  • there was concern about the capacity of the new agency to be able to include ITE in their remit.

Finally, a small number of respondents felt that existing ITE provision was not fit for purpose and/or that ITE was highly variable across providers. Some perceived there was a clear disconnect in the system between ITE and current practice in school. ITE should be much more stringently regulated or scrutinised, it was suggested, to ensure that teachers are fully equipped to meet required standards moving forward:

“Inspection of ITE providers would be welcomed, particularly in terms of consistency of delivery and outcomes. It would be beneficial to link this to inspection information from school inspections about early career teaching to provide a wider long-form evaluation of the effectiveness of ITE, probation and the impact of other contributing factors, such as mentor teachers, to the quality of a new teacher's learning and experience.” (Local Authority)



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