University of Chester Initial Teacher Education rated outstanding by Ofsted

Posted on 2nd December 2016

The University of Chester’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Partnership has been praised by Ofsted for its outstanding teacher training provision.

Josh Moss, University of Chester student/Associate Teacher, studying BA (Hons) Primary Education (5-11) with QTS.
Josh Moss, University of Chester student/Associate Teacher, studying BA (Hons) Primary Education (5-11) with QTS.

The University’s ITE report went live on the Ofsted website on Thursday, December 1. All the University’s Primary/Early Years (3-7 and 5-11 age phases) and Secondary partnerships with schools have been judged to be ‘outstanding’. The new Early Years Teacher Status (0-5 year age phase) and Further Education Partnerships successfully secured a rating of ‘good’.

The University is particularly pleased that Ofsted has recognised the significant impact its student teachers (known as Associate Teachers or ATs) and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) have on the partnership with schools. 

Liz Fleet, Deputy Dean, Quality Assurance/Ofsted Lead, in the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services and Keith Greenwood, former Head at Broomfields Junior School, Warrington are the Joint Chairs of the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Partnership Committee which oversees and drives the work of the partnership. An important feature of the partnership is the sharing of expertise between university and school colleagues to devise, deliver and monitor teaching programmes and the shared commitment to make continual improvements.

Liz Fleet said: “It is very important to us that our ATs are able to leave their programme feeling very well equipped to be excellent teachers.

“We recognise the enormous effect teachers have on children’s and young peoples’ lives so being very well prepared for this responsibility is crucial. Our vision focuses on ‘partnership with the learner at its heart’ and, with this in mind, University of Chester colleagues and partner head teachers and teachers are very determined to work together to provide the best teacher training programmes that we can. Together we make a strong and committed team.” 

Keith Greenwood added: “That commitment does not finish at the end of the programme; we like to keep in touch with our Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) and their employing schools and will do all that we can to ensure a successful transition into new teaching posts.” 

Liz Fleet continued: “We are keen to build on the strengths identified in the report and to focus on our priorities and most importantly of all continue to play a very significant role in working together with our partners to secure safe, happy and fulfilling childhoods for the children and young people whose lives we are all privileged to influence.”

The University of Chester is one of the oldest English higher education establishments of any kind and its original buildings were the first in the country to be purpose-built for the professional training of teachers.

Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Tim Wheeler, said: “We are all extremely proud that this report recognises the high quality of the ITE provision provided by staff within the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, partner Teaching School Alliances and our partner schools, colleges and early years settings.  Their hard work and commitment is to be commended as they continue to review and make improvements.  It is very heartening that head teachers reported so favourably to inspectors on the contribution made to their schools by our Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).”

Professor Anna Sutton, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, said: “I have always regarded my role as Dean of the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services to be a pleasure and a privilege and never more so than now when the hard working staff of the Faculty and our partner schools have been appropriately recognised for the splendid work they do in producing outstanding teachers. I am delighted.”

The Ofsted report states that the key strengths of the Primary Partnership (relating to all BA and PGCE aged 3 to 7 and 5 to 11 Core and School Direct programmes) are:

  • All trainees attain highly, so they are ready to make a swift start to their career and an immediate positive contribution to the schools in which they are employed.
  • Professional and resilient trainees and NQTs share a passion for teaching, an appetite for further development plus a desire, and ability, to improve the life chances of pupils in their care.
  • Exceptional centre-based training equips trainees and NQTs with the skills and knowledge to teach well across the early years and primary curriculum.
  • High-quality and diverse school placements, complemented by the work of committed mentors, ensure that trainees and NQTs are prepared well to work in a wide range of different schools.
  • The care, support and nurture for trainees in this partnership is of the highest quality and everyone is known as an individual; consequently, training is tailored to different needs to help everyone excel.
  • Ambitious, reflective and responsive leaders work as a cohesive team to deliver their core purpose of nurturing trainees to become excellent teachers.
  • Careful planning and highly effective quality assurance procedures mean that all trainees, regardless of the training route they follow, have an equal chance to, and do, thrive.

The Ofsted report states that the key strengths of the Secondary Partnership (Core and School Direct) are:

  • Outstanding leadership has led to very strong outcomes for trainees over recent years against a backdrop of expansion in both numbers and the subjects offered.
  • Leaders are highly reflective, responsive and emotionally intelligent. They model these qualities to their trainees who, in turn, become highly reflective and resilient practitioners.
  • Trainees benefit enormously from the positive relationships and effective communication that are at the heart of this partnership. As newly qualified teachers, they are equipped with the skills to form these same positive relationships quickly with their pupils.
  • Leaders are driven by a philosophy of continuous improvement. They have very high expectations of themselves and their trainees. This ethos contributes significantly to trainees developing into at least good and many into outstanding teachers.
  • The pastoral care of trainees is exemplary. The personalised support that trainees receive has a significant impact on the outstanding progress they make.
  • High-quality training and mentoring, that focuses on meeting individual needs, means that trainees are very well prepared to enable their pupils to learn well and make good progress.
  • Leaders’ development planning is very effective and their self-evaluation is thorough and accurate. Robust systems of quality assurance are in place, which secure sustained and improving outcomes for trainees.
  • The partnership is committed to working with schools in challenging circumstances and raising the achievement of disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils.

The Ofsted report states that the key strengths of the Early Years (0 to 5 years) ITT (Initial Teacher Training) Partnership are:

  • The development of new Early Years training routes is underpinned by a clear vision and firm commitment to raising the quality of the Early Years workforce. The partnership has established firm foundations for further growth and development and has a growing reputation for the quality of its early years ITT programmes with employers.
  • Graduate entry trainees gain employment and those already employed work in enhanced roles as Early Years Teachers (EYTs).
  • Tailored training and high levels of pastoral, academic and professional support, from knowledgeable and passionate University staff, meet individual trainees’ needs well and ensure that trainees successfully complete their training.
  • The University’s ongoing support and aftercare for former trainees and employing schools and settings ensure a seamless transition from initial training to employment and continuing professional development.
  • Trainees and former trainees have a good understanding of the teachers’ standards (Early Years) and willingly take responsibility for their own professional development.
  • High-quality, developmental centre-based training prepares trainees and former trainees well to work across the Early Years age range.
  • Trainees spend a substantial amount of time working in a diverse range of schools and settings with children from birth to five years old – ensuring that trainees and former trainees are very well prepared with the practical skills they need most as Early Years teachers.
  • Trainees’ and former trainees’ good teaching skills are rooted in their specialism, children’s learning and development, and their ability to evaluate their own teaching and its impact on children.

The Ofsted report states that the key strengths of the FE (Further Education) Partnership are:

  • Trainees gain the skills and professional knowledge that they need to be effective teachers.
  • Trainees gain a wide range of teaching skills and this enables their learners to make good progress.
  • Most trainees gain or sustain employment as teachers on completion of their programme.
  • The structure and content of the training prepares trainees well for teaching in the further education and skills sector.
  • Tutors and mentors provide good support that helps trainees to quickly develop their teaching skills and enhance their knowledge and understanding of the sector.
  • Assessment of trainees’ academic work is thorough and accurate.
  • Leaders and managers accurately evaluate the quality of training across the partnership and intervene quickly to make improvements when necessary.

To find out more about opportunities to train to teach at Chester visit: www.chester.ac.uk/teach