Forum Report from first Professional Dialogue Seminar series 2

Report from first Professional Dialogue Seminar series 2
Held at RAF Cosford on 1November 2010
The Forum is a partnership of the Higher Education Institutions offering initial teacher training (ITT)
programmes (further and higher) in the West Midlands area. They are the Universities of
Wolverhampton, Warwick, Staffordshire, Worcester and Birmingham City.
The Forum set up Professional Dialogue seminars in 2009 as a series of events to share good practice
across the West Midlands. Teacher Educators from each of the ITT teams within the partnership are
invited to exchange ideas on topics of educational interest. Following the success of the 2009-2010 series
of seminars, the Forum decided to fund a further series in 2010-2011.
The first in this second series of Professional Dialogue seminars was held at RAF Cosford on 1
November 2010. The theme was Ofsted Inspections and opened with a presentation from Jill Hardman,
an Ofsted Inspector. The morning seminar topic was on ‘Preparation for an Ofsted Inspection’ followed
in the afternoon by ‘The Impact of the Ofsted Inspection on Practice’.
The seminar was well received with partner colleges and representatives from Jisc and Warwick,
Wolverhampton and Staffordshire universities attending. General comments were that Teacher Educators
felt it was a valuable session with ‘an interesting and very wide ranging discussion’
This report is a collation of the ideas from the day and is by no means a complete picture of all the
interesting and stimulating discussion which took place. It is written to share the key points across the
Forum partnership.
Preparation and Impact of an Ofsted Inspection
The day started with a presentation by Jill Hardman, Ofsted Inspector, who gave an interesting and
informative overview of the ITE Ofsted inspections 2009-2010. Jill noted that the area of ‘Overall
Effectiveness’ had improved in the FE sector from 55% (pre 2008) to 73% and that the weakest area was
‘Capacity to Improve’. She detailed the 6 main areas for improvement as:
 Prioritise actions to improve outcomes for trainees
 Clear and measurable targets linked to outcomes
The SED should demonstrate
 First hand evidence with outcomes for the most recent cohorts
 Succinct analysis against key performance indicators relation to outcomes for
 Collect, analyse and use data on impact of provision on outcomes for different
 Evaluate the work based element of training (ie mentoring) and include in the
quality assurance and improvement plans.
The slides from Jill’s presentation are on the WMCETT website at:
The morning session then focussed on the preparation required for a successful Ofsted Inspection and the
afternoon discussion was around the Impact of an Ofsted Inspection and areas of change. The discussions
were wide ranging with teacher educators from both the HEI and college ITT teams sharing their views
openly and exploring the issues which arose from recent inspections. The main points from both the
morning and afternoon sessions were:
Partnership, Meetings and Organisation
The importance of the partnerships between HEI and colleges was recognised and the collaborative
approach and the regular meetings welcomed. This enabled development of the programme and systems
contributing to change. The implications when introducing change were recognised.
Once Ofsted had provided the list of colleges for inspection, the importance of clear and honest
conversations between the HEI and both the ITT team and college management of those colleges being
inspected was emphasised. It was noted that the selection of trainees could be negotiated with the Ofsted
Inspector. The inflexibility of Ofsted to deviate from their agenda was regretted as both HEIs and
colleges would have welcomed the opportunity to showcase areas of good practice. It was felt a focus on
development and maximising strengths would be more helpful than the current weaknesses and
improvement ethos. This raised questions around who the Ofsted inspection was intended to inspect, the
HEI or the colleges and who should own the development points arising from the inspection. The
question of whether the schools framework would be imposed on FE, the impact on our learners if this
occurred and how this might conflict with the FE ethos was considered. Issues around quality assurance
were raised and that the quality assurance cycle for Ofsted, HEI and colleges needed synchronising.
Action points teacher educators are putting into their practice are:
 Demonstrate college links both between HR and ITT on the ongoing
support available to in-house trainees and the selection of staff and
their ability to achieve the ITT qualifications and by inviting a senior
manager to the Ofsted feedback meeting.
 Share good practice across a partnership with an open resource bank
and observations amongst ITT team of teaching/tutorials.
Data and providing evidence
The inspection process is driven by the SED which is completed by HEIs with the colleges contributing
via the Annual Monitoring Report. There had been difficulties with the ability of data systems to
generate the information required by Ofsted and this was made more complex as the data was not collated
in one place. Whilst ITT providers found the reliance on data over showcasing practice frustrating, data
analysis was found to drive improvement and raise interesting questions such as why there might be
different drop out rates for September and February intakes; outcomes related to E&D etc. which had
raised the practice of the partnerships.
ITT teams had been creative in presenting evidence of good practice through ILPs, case studies, notes of
meetings between tutors and trainees, colour-coded lesson plans showing E&D and safeguarding and pen
portraits. Jill explained that Ofsted has Guidelines on Pen Portraits which show how standardised
technical documents link to evidence and she has agreed to share these with Teacher Educators – see
WMCETT website at:
Whilst HEIs received a written report, Teacher Educators in colleges were disappointed at the lack of
written feedback from Ofsted as there was no acknowledgement of their achievement. It was suggested
that a Senior Manager be invited to the verbal feedback session between Ofsted and the TE team. It was
suggested that a focus on outcomes linked to distance travelled and value added would provide useful
evidence in future.
There was some discussion over whether grading should be used when tracking progress although it was
felt that this was against the FE ethos and was not required by Ofsted.
Action points teacher educators are putting into their practice on Data and evidence are:
How technology can support TE in preparing for Ofsted and obtain/capturing data including electronic
Importance of outcomes and need to track data using the traffic light system including information on
distance travelled and value added.
Collecting evidence through pen portraits, with clear guidelines; the ILP and lesson plans; the need to
ensure that the ILP is used effectively and honestly and reviewed regularly by trainees/mentors/tutors
and putting sustainability/employability and safeguarding into schemes of work and session plans
The value of holding regular meetings and target setting against particular tasks with set assessment
against Ofsted criteria at 2 points in the year.
Ensuring data is sufficiently clear and detailed to support the evaluation process.
Mentoring was an issue for every ITT team and there was discussion around the definition of mentoring
and the quality of the relationships between the university and college TE teams and mentors and between
mentor, tutor and trainee including cultural differences. Some of the main areas of concern from the
Ofsted inspection were:
It was important to establish a baseline for mentoring provision for all trainees by defining the role and
responsibilities of the mentor across the partnership. The setting up of a mentor database was also being
The difficulties encountered with mentor availability for mentor training sessions and whether the HEI or
college delivers the training was discussed. In order to provide mentor training in these circumstances,
alternative ways of training mentors were explored including:
the use of technology via webinars, video-conferencing, Skype and electronic newsletters;
a ‘meet your mentor’ event for trainees and mentors to share their interpretation of the role of the
offering external trainees a college mentor;
using Advanced Practitioners as mentors;
contacting ex DTLLS trainees to be mentors or to support new trainees.
The issue of quality and standardised mentor practice across all trainees was shared and the question of
whether IfL have a role here was raised. Two HEIs rewarded mentors who attended training with prizes
and payments and the question of mentor accreditation was also discussed.
The need for triangulation meetings between tutor/trainee/mentor to be robust and have demonstrable
outcomes was raised. The difficulties of these meetings when 40% of trainees were not in a college
environment were explored and the partnership was experimenting with e-portfolios where mentors,
tutors and trainees come together online to complete paperwork. The question of using IfL’s Reflect as a
shared, interactive platform for triangulation discussions was also explored. It was noted that
triangulation meetings were an area that trainees were asked about by Ofsted.
Action points teacher educators are putting into their practice on mentoring are:
 Using technology to support communication – video conferencing, Webinar eg Elluminate, Dim Dim for
mentor/trainee/TE conversations.
 Consider innovative ways to liaise with mentors including via e- portfolio with set times during year when
3 parties talk to each other; online discussions via Skype, video-conferencing and Reflect; e-newsletters;
giving mentor prizes; mentor conference each year;
 Introducing ‘meet the mentor’ sessions; using experienced, skilled mentors to train or support new
mentors; offering mentor accreditation; organising observation workshops for mentors.
The role and function of the observation and the need to ensure the development of trainees was not
compromised were explored. This sometimes conflicted with the quality assurance processes of the
college and different colleges had negotiated different arrangements including: college observation could
be carried out only after 1 or 2 developmental observations and the trainee could chose the session to be
observed; graded observations carried out by TE team but not disclosed to management; the college doing
a quality assurance observation separate from the TE observations.
The difficulty of teaching in a variety of settings for some trainees was shared and it was also recognised
that the teaching role of the trainee can change over the two years of the programme. Where trainees
have difficulty meeting the range it was suggested that this might be embedded into the programme or
that mentors might be able to provide advice or practical help.
Action points teacher educators are putting into their practice on range are:
Ensuring trainees can experience the full range by: teaming up with TEs from other colleges; involving crosscollege colleagues including mentors; trainees teaching the DTLLS group.
Questions raised by the discussions were:
Who the Ofsted inspection was for, the HEI or the colleges?
Ofsted inspected the university provision but not the awarding body provision – who inspects this
and do they use the same framework?
Will Community cohesion be included in future as part of E&D in Ofsted inspections?
Does mentoring end with the programme or continue into workplace support? Related to this was
the question of whether mentors should be expected to sponsor trainees for QTLS?
The day was very successful and Teacher Educators found it a ‘valuable and interesting day’ that was ‘good for
catching up and sharing experiences of Ofsted and the preparation for and exploration of important topics’