Ofsted slams inadequate teacher training

Sir Michael Wilshaw has attacked teacher training providers for leaving trainees completely unprepared to deal with the lack of discipline in the classroom.

New teachers are being ‘left to flounder’ in the classroom because of inadequate training, according to the Ofsted chief, and he described the situation as a ‘national scandal’.

Sir Michael said that 40% of teachers left the profession within five years because they were ill-equipped to cope with unruly pupils, the Mail reports. He claimed that trainees were being taught by people who lacked recent experience and that schools failed to support them. “How many times have heads said to me that their trainees had been tutored by people with little or no up-to-date school experience or a record of outstanding teaching?” Sir Michael asked. “Trainees have been sent into schools inadequately prepared to deal with poor behaviour. Even worse, how many times have I heard they were left to flounder because they received little or no support from senior and middle leaders?”

He warned that in future Ofsted will crack down on course providers. From September its inspectors will ask new teachers if they were ‘well supported, in particular in dealing with pupil behaviour’ – and will check on which institution trained any teachers who are struggling.

If you’re a new teacher, do you feel ill-equipped to deal with problem pupils because of the poor training you received? And if you’re an experienced teacher, are you aware of younger colleagues who are struggling?

34 thoughts on “Ofsted slams inadequate teacher training

  1. You can’t beat a leading question can you:
    If you’re a new teacher, do you feel ill-equipped to deal with problem pupils because of the poor training you received?

    How about asking something more balanced like:
    If you are a new teacher, how well equipped do you feel to deal with problem pupils? How would you rate your training and how has that helped you in dealing with pupils?
    You are doing your best to ensure that the story leans your own weighted way rather than trying to find out what is really going on.

    For the record, I am in my NQT year. I retrained after 20 years doing other work. Dealing with problem pupils is tough. My training was very good (I did the gtp route), although I did suffer my share of tedious sessions with people who had no recent experience and / or I could not believe ever delivered outstanding lessons.

    I feel very strongly supported by my own department and slt. I had one horrendous experience and raised a flare (as it were). The pupil in question was excluded for 5 days, various people helped me develop additional strategies, I went on an extra day’s training and members of the slt still drop into my lessons with that group unannounced to see how things are going and show their visible support.

    It’s not all bad out here.

  2. I am an NQT who is really struggling with behaviour in my class. It is not that I feel my placements did not have strong behaviour management because they did but I was not put in any challenging schools with challenging behaviour that I struggled to manage. My problem is this: effective behaviour management strategies build up over the years so I don’t feel that any NQT should be given a class where children have previously given teachers trouble or cause to call in behaviour support. I also believe there should be more correlation in whole-school approaches to behaviour management so that children understand the approach the whole way through the school and NQTs are fully supported in that.

  3. Oh dear…. blame the teachers who have heavy workloads… yet again the government are not seeing the bigger picture. Wake up will you. You have made a mess of the proffession. Admit that you thought you could get cheaper option of newly qualified teachers to take up posts that should be given to long standing teachers.
    I know that heads of schools have had a majority of nqts in a department and then after a year have wondered why pupils are unruly. They also have no clue why the poor nqts end up on stress. Its simple only one nqt to department at a time. Give them key stage 3 in their first year pref seven and eight. Build them up to the difficult hormonal years of nine ten and eleven.
    This situation will only get better if the government and teachers work together. The government needs to see teachers as proffessionals.
    I am probably wasting my time writting this but i hope the sort out this mess soon or it will be a mass exidus of nqts and teachers at the chalkface.

  4. Perhaps Mr Willshaw could do a few months as a teacher in today’s schools, I am guessing its a while since he was a practising teacher. You have to love his hypocracy, was he outstanding in today’s regime, is he up to date? You have to love old has beens that criticise those actually doing the job. Haven’t Ofsted just made inspections a little easier because he was failing to many schools. Let’s get rid of him and have someone with a bit more of a constructive vision.

  5. This is also happening in FE. Colleges are changing posts to Associate Tutor or some other spurious title with minor tweaks to the role and responsibilities. Naturally the pay scale is much reduced, but the quals that they seek are often the same as those of a normal tutor on a higher pay scale.

    Students entering FE on vocational courses often come with a record of failure and a host of challenging “issues”. Yet for some reason colleges seem to think that this takes less skill and wages, maybe as much as 40% less! to get these kids through a level 3 or 4 qualification.

    The end result is that colleges are crammed with unqualified or inexperienced staff on part time or zero hour contracts trying to succeed with students that present the biggest challenges! This in turn puts massive pressure on experienced staff trying to fire fight the problems using these inexperienced staff cause and face.

    You can see the new staff that have been recruited on the cheap start to crumble within days. It’s a national disgrace alright.

  6. This Wilshaw chap is a very poor role model for the teaching profession – It is my humble understanding that newly qualified teachers continue learning on the job and the implementation of behaviour and discipline policies is a vital aspect of the ‘teaching standards.’

    Having worked as a teacher and a HE tutor I can say from experience that the best preparation for understanding positive discipline and behaviour is through the school experience element of training. I have prepared student teachers in university and supported them on school experience with such issues and feel affronted by these statements both as a teacher and tutor.

    The underlying reason why young teachers are leaving the profession can not be soley down to behaviour issues but rather the continuing and intolerable pressure that they are put under from a variety of external and internal demands -job satisfaction is difficult to achieve in the high pressure pot of state education! That’s why many teachers have moved to the private sector. Perhaps Wilshaw should attack training providers for failing to provide stress management which may save millions of pounds while at the same time curtailing his demoralising and ‘catch all’ pronouncements!

  7. Nothing new there then!
    It was the same more than twenty years ago. Teacher training lecturers used to say that if your lessons were well prepared then you would have no behaviour trouble. Nonsense. Preparation is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get good behaviour, and no single answer. There are teachers who are real paragons, but not everybody can emulate what they do. But in today’s world of totally disrespectful children, a course on behaviour management, including exposure to different ideas and techniques, videos and sharing practice by experienced teachers as guest presenters, should be the core of intial teacher training, not an afterthought.
    Of course no one questions why in UK schools we expect and accept that children should behave abominably and that teachers should have to learn special techniques. There is an underlying absurdity here which neither inspectors nor successive governments nor teacher trainers have addressed.

  8. I mostly agree with Ofsted findings and would like to suggest that instead of wasting their money chasing poor providers (although important too) they should give the money to schools and colleges to provide the necessary support on the job to newly trained teachers. And I mean, reducing the teacher contact time (paid obviously) in order to attend over a period of time relevant and structured training within the institution. My experience is that for every newly trained teacher employed I have to invest two years of my time to bring them up to the required standards and that is time consuming and sometimes unaffordable.

  9. Has Wilshaw not thought to consider why pupils are unruly and also why it is expected that teachers should be able to deal with the many complex issues that result from pupil experiences outside of the school?

  10. Maybe the honourable gentleman should loosen his tie, roll up his sleeves, and teach a term himself – real, ordinary, unimpressed kids – and see how he does! Simply yet another example of people preaching what they know little about. And incidentally, behaviour is not the only thing driving young teachers from the profession; behaviour is just one of a long list of grievances. It’s about time teachers were given much more credit for the incredible job they do, day-in-day-out, in difficult circumstances and under immense pressure coming from all sides, driven by people who do not understand the realities.

  11. Helen@ Did we read the same article? HMCI has placed the core focus on teaching training providers with corollary trails in relation to support provided by schools for their student and/or NQT colleagues. The latter points have been standard expectations/requirements for schools for many years now. This also begs the question, is HMCI supporting young inexperienced teachers or attacking teachers per se?

    As for your assertion that it is the government’s fault I know for a fact that the practice of many Head Teachers of replacing experienced colleagues with NQTs has been around since the late 1990s. It has always been a strategy to make the budget go further and ensure a flow of new blood with new ideas into schools. It follows then that if there is a culprit here it is Head Teachers who knowingly and wilfully take on too many NQTs in (a) a single department and (b) a school as a whole.

    I would also throw into the mix that the issue of unruly children is by no means confined to Y9-11. Head Teachers must stand up and be counted regarding their Behaviour strategies (e.g. sanctions, support interventions, rewards, home school contact).

    No, I am not excusing the current or previous governments for their part in the overall situation but neither should Head teachers and schools be excused either.

  12. Poor discipline in the classroom is only one factor in the failure of new teachers to remain in the profession. A major factor is simply the inability to find posts. I trained in 2005/6 and along a third of my cohort failed to find a position for the following September. Although I did better than many by managing to complete induction–three separate terms, three different schools, three difference LEAs–I never managed to get a permanent post and gave up after three years and over four hundred applications (and sixty interviews). I know that from my group of thirty NQTs, four never taught after training and three others failed to complete induction and drifted away after a couple of years of supply work. Of those who had posts immediately after training, one left within the first term, three (on fixed term contracts) finished induction and left the profession having failed to get another post. I’m not in regular contact now but do hear, from time to time, from contacts that another has fallen by the wayside. I guess that after 7-8 years no more than 20-30% are still teaching.

    However, I agree with the report overall. Discipline, in my experience, is the greatest gap in teacher training. We were told with perfectly straight faces that we need only stand in silence and wait–even the most unruly pupils will fall into line in under a minute. Well, I can personally attest that my pupils were quite prepared to continue in their ‘unruly’ behaviour for the full hour and would have done so if a passing member of SLT hadn’t quelled them with a whole class after-school detention (strange–I thought my university tutors told me they were not only ineffective but banned).

    Having taught in countless schools of all sorts in various parts of the country my conclusion is that the ‘techniques’ taught in teacher training–classroom contracts, waiting silently, speaking quietly, looking for excuses to praise–work with nice polite children in nice polite schools (and there are still some of both). They emphatically don’t work with deliberately disruptive pupils who are disengaged from the education system. The traditional ‘big deterrent’ of calling in the parents is often meaningless. In one ‘consequence review’ after being verbally abused and assaulted by a pupil I was told by the indignant mother that it was my fault for forcing her son to do boring work. The pupil was subsequently allowed to effectively ‘drop’ a core subject and spend the resulting free time in unsupervised so-called private study–which meant playing on the internet in the library.

    I had some great times teaching lovely pupils (from all backgrounds) and developed particularly strong individual relationships with some who were disaffected in general–starting with a clean slate and giving children a chance does sometimes work–but the weight of maintaining discipline often in the face of just one or two disruptive pupils means the majority don’t get the support and teaching they deserve.

    I was lucky in having an previous profession and contacts who could get me back into that industry. Others, especially those coming straight through the university system, aren’t so lucky. What value do potential employers put on a teaching qualification? I know that I no longer include it on my CV having been told in no uncertain terms that it was adversely affecting my applications.

  13. Part of the problem is that with all the current attacks on the teaching profession constantly undermining teachers, giving the impression that most of us, are lazy, cannot inspire pupils, and utterly useless.

    I am watching football at the moment I feel we are like a Ref, everything is constantly analysed, managers and footballers complain bitterly when they don’t get their own way, and once a Ref is criticized there is little support from the governing bodies.

    Teachers in other countries are looked up to as role models, helping the children of today prepare for the future, when i worked abroad I was given so much more respect. Here the first comment out of many people’s mouth is about my holidays and teachers have it easy. No wonder pupils won’t behave when they are fed this tripe by the media, government and parents.

  14. There is no doubt that learning on the job is the best way to gain proper experience of dealing with unruly pupils but NQTs need to be supported a lot especially in their first year. However behaviour of pupils is only one reason why NQTs leave the profession and indeed any teacher leaves the profession. I think Sir Michael needs to look deeper into the causes of all professionals leaving the job. I think he will find, if teachers are honest, that it is the relentless pursuit of a target driven regime. I am all for giving my pupils the best possible education I can but when targets are set that are not just challenging but impossible then that is when stress really kicks in. My own daughter, who until 6 weeks ago was an outstanding teacher in a Special Needs Secondary School, left the profession – never to return. She has 8 years of teaching behind her but the relentless paper work and working hours got too much. (She, by the way, never had any problem with discipline in her classes) It’s sad that such talented teachers are leaving but lets not pretend that it is just behaviour that is driving teachers out.

  15. As a fairly new teacher, I am very confident in saying that my peers and I had excellent training in terms of behaviour management. I have since moved away from where I trained and I see similar expectations here.

    I also think the logic is totally flawed. If he is asserting that inexperienced teachers are leaving because of poor behaviour management, then it should follow that the remaining teachers should be ‘good’ at behaviour management and be able to support our new trainees. However, he is illogically stating that trainees are being taught by inexperienced new teachers with poor behaviour management – but I thought those teachers left because of stress?!

    I have briefly considered leaving the profession… as have many colleagues I know. Why? Because of the enormous strain of the work load, extra demands, constant disruptive goal-post changes. I love teaching but I simply cannot see it as a sustainable career based on the poor pay and work-life balance.

  16. As a TA and Cover Teacher. As Andy quite rightly said it really is up to the Head to decide what is best for the school. We have a lot of NQT and unqualified teachers, however there is strict behavioural procedures and provided you are consistent and aware of what they are, then you will be more equipped to deal with unruly behaviour regardless of the age group. Trust me when I say, year 7 at my school are far harder work behaviourally then years 10 and 11. NQT’s need to also ask if they are struggling and talk to others about how best to do the job, after all no-one expects you to know something if you haven’t been told/shown.

  17. Wilshaw, just like his puppet masters has not got even the slightest clue about working in the classroom. After two generations, successive governments and the media have attacked teachers from all sides, undermining any authority or respect the profession used to have. The single biggest issue facing state education is continual interference by the state. After 20 years in the profession I no longer recognise it, but i can see for my self the great evil that OFSTED and league tables and politicians have wrought on our young. No one sane would want to spend any time in such a draconian and unrewarding profession where you get bitten by everyone. Ah well – at least teachers get those really long holidays and finish work at 3pm.

  18. Professional not professional. Sorry to pull you up Helen, but spelling is a big issue I have with posts on this site. Especially from the teachers!

  19. Qualified as a teacher in South Africa – taught at a private school for 6 years. Best time of my life. We LOVED school – kids used to come back during school holidays to sort library books, help marking the fields for sport, prepare classrooms and equipment for the coming term. Great school with a great ethos. Teachers were told “You’re the professionals, so teach the way you see fit.” And we did…

    Came to the UK in 2002 – signed up with a couple of supply agencies – qualifications were ratified by the (then) GTC and I had full QTS.

    After several supply teaching projects (40 in total) I decided teaching in the UK was a mug’s game, and never bothered to take it any further. Awful experience – how UK teachers put up with all the crap is beyond me (from all sides – the government, the kids, the parents). My qualifications in maths, science and special needs have never been put to good use – and never will be.

  20. Some of the spelling and grammar in the previous responses does not speak too well if these people are teachers.
    Additionally, we should not forget that society in general has something to answer for with children being at the centre of some parents’ universe and out of control before they even start school.
    New teachers are themselves a product of that society so they not only need to be given adequate training but they too have to accept that they are not there to be friends with/or simply to be liked by their charges.

  21. Pedagogy …derived from the Greek paidie = child…gogein= tp lead !
    Teachers should lead children ! In my three and a half decade teaching career as a secondary level teacher , I once had the good fortune to teach in a newly formed school in the private sector.
    This was a small school , some 45 /50 children with three other teachers and myself. I had all of the students for a greater part of the time table , the others had smaller units for specialist subjects…EFL…foreign languages…maths & science.

    I taught humanities .

    I eventually developed a relationship with my students that gave me total control and authority balanced by a friendly affection. I became , pater familias ! I took my kids on foreign trips and to visits to sites of educational interest . I developed a close rapport with their parents and was general appreciated and trusted ! In short I was ‘their teacher’ .I led them to knowledge and understanding !
    Those years were the happiest and most rewarding of my career ! Everything before that experience and after in the State sector was much less rewarding . Indeed , towards the end in a FE college , it was a nightmare of useless bureaucracy and paperwork !

    I feel the politicians of all mutations have imposed themselves on the profession with their corporate notions of efficiency and progressive development ,to the extent that they smother any spark of humanity from the learning process !
    I say get the State out of Education. Leave teachers to teach. Let us train ourselves and direct ourselves and be not some governed by some jumped up Political blow-hard in a suit and tye who has a career agenda !

  22. Having qualified as a secondary school teacher, I found the most difficult behaviour came not from pupils but my teaching mentors, who behaved more like tormentors. Student teachers are treated worse than dogs. Authority in schools is a very hard game of hot potato.
    In my experience and that of several other NQTs I know, there is no real support for NQTs.

  23. Elias, you’ve got it totally right. Unfortunately so has Lindsey about spelling and grammar – embarrassing for the profession.

  24. It is not behaviour management that we struggle with, we received ample training on it at Goldsmiths (PGCE) and it is simply about holding your nerve, following up/through, and working WITH the students not against them screaming etc. It is the workload that we are all unprepared for: most of my hours are spent doing admin, social-care, excessive marking, data-input etc or dealing with parents and school politics instead of what I was trained well to do…teach! 3 have quit since September; I’m switching to teach freelance/supply in August.

  25. I think Ofsted have missed the point completely… as a teacher of many years experience what colleagues tell me and what I hear from others time and time again is that teachers leave the profession primarily because the excessive workload means that they ‘no longer have a life’! Sure pupil behaviour is a factor, but when you find yourself working all day all night and most of your weekend its no wonder a lot of people think…this isn’t for me.

  26. Are people being set up to fail? And if so; who by?

    I was lucky enough to spend 3 days in a school which is Ofsted “outstanding” and trains new PGCE candidates; in preparation for applying for my PGCE. The Teachers I spent time with were fantastic and I really enjoyed my time at the school. However, there is no way I will be applying for my PGCE after seeing a system which has not moved on in the 20 years since I left Secondary school, and which has a discipline system which I can only relate to a corporal punishment regime.

    During my previous experience working as a Manufacturing HR Manager, I saw 1st hand the products of education methods advocated in schools, I now fully understand why younger people I have employed, coming into the world of work, hove poor cognitive thinking skills, hate learning and think the world owes them a living. And its my generation which needs to take full responsibility for not providing a social environment which supports these individuals to become mature, happy, responsive adults who understand the need for personal development.

    After spending the last 5 years in Asia teaching English, I am very concerned that we are moving towards the methods I saw regularly used in both China and Thailand, where systems are in place to strongly dissuade questioning and discourage free thought. Why are our governments so eager to point the finger at individual groups, but less inclined to put into place practical alternatives regarding Education systems? In America, Project 2061 has been devised to support just such a move; to make genuine, measurable improvements for the future development of American society and the economy?

    Why is this not happening in the UK?

  27. After reading the above respondents replies it is sad to see such poor spelling and grammar. This is all too common in the schools’ teaching and we in Higher Education are tired of having to correct bad English. The profession (note one f) needs a complete overhaul.

  28. No, no, no, no! Teachers are leaving the profession because the job is becoming impossible. It’s no surprise that newly qualified teachers are the first out of the door. They are, indeed, the least well-equipped to deal with impossible targets, aggressive OFSTED inspections, rampant bureaucracy, and unrealistic expectations, simply because they are the least experienced. Gove and Wilshaw and their hateful regime are the real reasons that teachers are leaving the profession.

  29. In short, make inexperienced teachers experienced. So how do you do this? By getting experience not by a quick fix. Erm, maybe there’s more to this job than meets the eye Sir Michael.

  30. Its not the inadequate Teacher training. That’s not true.Its the inexperienced and inadequate Principals that are placed in the position and have no experience or knowledge of how to govern a school.For example the Metropolitan Academy.A music Teacher appointed by the Federation to the Principal post from the out backs of the inner City.I honestly thought the Dow Dow Bird was extinct.No wonder its gone all pear shaped.
    Its not fair to blame the University’s.

  31. Rich (25/1 at 3:37) was spot on when he wrote:

    Of course no one questions why in UK schools we expect and accept that children should behave abominably and that teachers should have to learn special techniques. There is an underlying absurdity here which neither inspectors nor successive governments nor teacher trainers have addressed.

    They’re letting the cart pull the horse!!!

  32. I think you are right Elias.

    I agree with the blogger below you though that although you are the most accurate blogger on the site, the bitch above you picked holes in many teachers’ poor spelling and grammar. What a poor excuse for a little Ofsted arse kisser this girl is, but she does have a point on that score!

    A teacher’s raison d’etre should derive as you put it so succinctly, from the word origin of “Pedagogy”. It has moved so far away from that in Ofsted speak nowadays though, that it really is an audacity when clearly stupid senior managers and suits from gestapo-sted use that term. They clearly do so incorrectly and therefore need reining in for their lack of intellect as teaching professionals (Lindsey Porter included). Stupidity/lack of linguistic culture or historical understanding in teaching is just as bad as poor spelling…ney, worse!

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