One in ten new teachers 'unsuited to job': Survey by school inspectors raises questions about the effectiveness of training. Julia Hagedorn reports

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The Independent Online
ONE IN TEN new teachers in England and Wales are unsuited to the job and should have chosen a different career, a survey by school inspectors says.

The research means that more than 3,000 of the students embarking this year on their teacher-training could turn out to be ineffective as teachers. Indeed, more than half of primary teachers felt they had not been prepared to teach reading adequately.

The survey of 300 new teachers in England and Wales in the third term of their first post found that 10 per cent were unsuited to their career. The report, The New Teacher in School, published by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) says that this raises a crucial question about how the students were selected, allowed to complete their courses, and gain appointments.

'The financial cost of training these teachers, and their potentially adverse impact upon the quality of education received by the pupils taught by them, demands that more care and rigour are needed in the selection of students, the in-course guidance and assessment of students' performance, and the selection procedures employed by some schools.'

A quarter of the unsatisfactory teachers were in difficult schools where the help they were given in their first year was often non-existent. In many cases their weaknesses had not been identified and they had no models of good practice which they could copy.

Schools generally rated the teachers as satisfactory. 'Many of these schools based their judgements of their new teachers' performance on impression rather than on systematic classroom observation.' Early observation and advice, the report says, might have remedied many of their weaknesses. This casts doubt on the government proposals in which schools will play a larger part in training teachers.

The survey of 172 primary and 128 secondary teachers was carried out in the summer term of 1992 when all new teachers still had a probationary year. That safeguard was removed from September and means many could find themselves without any sort of induction programme in their first post.

The survey found that 62 per cent of primary teachers in 1992 had no time specifically allocated within school hours for induction and only two out of five received more than an hour a week.

Virtually all secondary schools ran an induction programme. But, the report says, the extent and quality was variable. 'There was little evidence that either schools or local authorities had planned an induction programme as part of a systematic process of professional development.' A quarter of all schools were seriously at fault.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of School Teachers/Union of Women Teachers, said: 'The Ofsted report underlines the folly of the Government in completely abolishing the probationary year instead of strengthening it.'

Since the last survey in 1987, there have been considerable changes in the demands made on new teachers with the introduction of the national curriculum and assessment. This is the first survey to look at teachers who have followed courses governed by new criteria.

More than 90 per cent of headteachers considered the new teachers to be adequately prepared and more than 70 per cent of lessons assessed were considered satisfactory or better.