Geographical Association

Join the GA

The leading subject association for all teachers of geography

GTIP Orientation Piece - Quality Provision

PGCE students

In this Orientation Piece Stephen Ellis (Manchester Metropolitan University) provides a summary of the main aspects of the Ofsted framework, published in 2006, for inspection ITT, focusing on how geography tutors might be involved.


The aims of this Orientation Piece are to:

  • provide a summary of the main aspects of Ofsted inspection of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) (secondary)
  • indicate how geography coordinators might be involved

It addresses the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of OFSTED inspections of ITT?
  • What is the basis for inspections and how are they graded?
  • Who gets short and who gets full inspections?
  • Short inspections: how might the geography coordinator be involved?
  • Full inspections: how might the geography coordinator be involved?

<<< Back to top

What is the purpose of Ofsted inspections of ITT?

The main purposes of the inspection of initial teacher training (ITT) are, as stated in the Framework for Inspection, (Ofsted, 2005) to:

  • ensure public accountability for the quality of ITT
  • stimulate improvement in the quality of provision
  • provide objective judgements on providers for public information
  • inform policy
  • enable the statutory link to be made between funding and quality
  • check compliance with statutory requirements

Although the emphasis is on accountability, quality and funding, Ofsted inspections can provide institutions with an opportunity to reflect on their provision and to make improvements.

<<< Back to top

What is the basis for Inspections and how are they graded?

From September 2005 a new framework for inspecting ITT was introduced, to be used for inspections taking place from 2005/06 until 2010/11. The framework differs from frameworks used before 2006 in that the emphasis is on inspecting and grading the whole provision of an institution. Before 2006 individual subject courses were inspected and graded individually. Two key documents which can be used to help geography coordinators prepare for an inspection are:

Judgements are made on a four point scale:

  1. outstanding
  2. good
  3. satisfactory
  4. inadequate

A separate judgement is made about whether a course is compliant, i.e. complies with the statutory requirements for ITT, or non-compliant.

Institutions will be inspected twice during the six year period of the framework, either having a short inspection or a full inspection. This Orientation Piece sets out to outline the key features of each and how the geography coordinator might be involved. It highlights what Ofsted takes into consideration and what Ofsted values and it is advisable for geography coordinators to take these into account when planning and implementing the geography provision.

<<< Back to top

Who gets SHORT and who gets FULL inspections?

The type of inspection depends on the quality of provision in the previous inspection.

Short inspections take place, normally every three years:

  1. where provision is in TTA categories A (outstanding) or B (good) in previous inspection
  2. where good provision has been confirmed in previous short or full inspections

Full inspections take place:

  1. within three years where provision in TTA category C (satisfactory) in previous inspection
  2. within one year where good category has not been confirmed in previous inspection
  3. within one year where provision is in TTA category D (inadequate) in an inspection in the previous year
  4. within one year where provision is non-compliant with the ITT requirements

<<< Back to top

Short Inspections: how might geography coordinators be involved?

Short inspections focus on:

  • Management and quality assurance of the provision
  • Quality of training

The emphasis of short inspections is on making judgements about the whole provision. At the end of a short inspection only one grade is given: for MQA for the whole provision. There is also confirmation (or not) that the quality of provision is still at least good.

If there is a SHORT inspection the geography coordinator will be involved as indicated below. The amount of involvement depends on whether geography is one of the subjects selected for inspection. Generally half the subjects offered by the provider are inspected.

How might geography coordinators be involved in the inspection of MQA?

Although the geography coordinator might not be directly involved in the inspection of MQA and the Quality of training, evidence related to geography that the Managing Inspector will use might include:

1. Documentary evidence that feeds into the self assessment of the whole course

  • Subject questionnaire completed by the geography coordinator before the inspection indicating any changes and developments since the last inspection
  • Action plans for monitoring and improving the geography course
  • Evaluation of the geography course by trainees
  • Reports related to the geography course from External examiners

2. Documentary evidence related to the geography course that feeds into the general documentation presented to the Managing Inspector

  • Geography course handbook
  • Documentation about selection procedures, which might include procedures specific to geography
  • A sample of interview records for geography applicants
  • A sample of GTTR forms of geography students
  • Assessment records/reports for a sample of geography students
  • External examiners' reports for the previous three years (those not provided for subject/curriculum inspectors)

3. Interview evidence and supporting documentation as set out below

If geography is being inspected the following sources of evidence will be used by a specialist geography inspector If geography is not being inspected, the following sources of evidence will be used by the Assistant Inspector
Interview with geography coordinator and tutor(s): 2 hours Interview with geography coordinator in a group with coordinators of other subjects not being inspected
Interview of a sample group of geography trainees who are not being interviewed in schools (paragraph 67) Interview with geography trainee(s) in a group from other subjects not being inspected
Documentary evidence from trainees who are interviewed:

  • Mentor records, medium and short term lesson planning, reports of lesson observations
  • Subject knowledge audits
  • ICT audits
  • Completed assignments

Documentation for trainees who are interviewed:

  • Mentor records, medium and short term lesson planning, reports of lesson observations
  • Subject knowledge audits
  • ICT audits
  • Completed assignments
Interviews with geography mentor and geography trainees in partner school being visited If geography students are in partner schools being visited, it is possible that the geography mentor and geography trainees will be interviewed
Documentary evidence from partner schools being visited: evidence of school-based training, records of mentor meetings etc. If partner schools in which geography students are placed are visited documentary evidence of school-based training, records of mentor meetings etc. might be examined

Inspectors will spend a great deal of time collecting ephemeral evidence interviewing individuals and groups of trainees, school mentors and meeting with university tutors and management. They will also examine:

  • trainees' assignments, teaching files
  • library provision
  • ICT provision and training
  • trainee audits and programmes for learning to meet trainees individual needs
  • the training provided both in the 'training centre' and the partner schools

Towards the end of the course, a sample of trainees is observed in order to judge the Standards they have achieved. The university will be expected to grade the sample (1-4) before the individual trainees are observed by the inspector who will then make judgements about the validity, evidence base, quality of the trainees and accuracy of the grading.

On all inspections the management and quality assurance is inspected. The inspector examines the provider’s self-evaluation and improvement plans (see above), their selection procedures, the management of the training programme and the procedures for quality assurance.

<<< Back to top

What are the results of an ITT inspection?

During a full inspection, the inspectors provide verbal feedback at various stages. Verbal interim findings are reported and individual feedback is often indicated after, for example, a training/ teaching session. Examples are available via Ofsted.

The main report is received during the late summer of the inspection year

<<< Back to top

What issues can be raised relating to the training of teachers?

Ofsted reports contain findings and grades for quality of training and the standards achieved by trainees. Reports are available via Ofsted.

The report identifies points for action and consideration by the provider. Thus in the feedback one institution was asked to consider and act upon how to ‘improve the quality of lesson evaluations to include consideration of pupils’ learning’.

These points and others are then followed-up during subsequent inspections.

The inspectors also raise more general issues in their annual address to the GTE Conference. At the Manchester Conference in 2004, for instance, HMI focused on identifying ‘good practice in meeting individual needs – findings from inspections in 2003-04’ - and Paul Dowgill had this to say:

‘It is imperative trainees are given the support they need to succeed. We need to focus on the appropriateness of the selection procedures and the procedures for formulating training plans to meet individual needs. More especially, how the training meets the needs of individual trainees’ (Downgill, 2004).

Clearly, this advice was to avoid ‘deficit models’ and to develop ‘individualised school based training programmes developing trainees’ strengths so they become experts’.

Finally, the Ofsted Handbook provides useful commentaries on each of the inspection cells in relation to the grades. Through the analysis and use of these commentaries one can glean the type of ‘outcome criteria’ that inspectors are seeking.

<<< Back to top


The outcomes from inspection are used by the TDA as the basis of decisions about the continued accreditation of providers and the allocation of trainee numbers to particular courses. Where any aspect of a course is found to be ‘non-compliant’ (grade 4) or the courses judged to be at grade 3 in two or more cells (see above), then these providers are subject to a further inspection the following year.

In order to avoid such a situation and ensure a good quality outcome for your institution, good teamwork and collegiality is required between all partners both in schools and at the university. The inspection must be well managed by the ITT provider so that ‘stress levels’ are kept to a minimum. The inspectors will ‘act in the best interests and well being of pupils, trainers and trainee teachers’, while maintaining purposeful dialogue with the trainers.

Inspection should be viewed as an opportunity to display the excellent quality of geography trainee teachers which most providers produce. As reported in a recent issue of GA News, the standard of geography ITE is very high in the eyes of its participants. Inspection outcomes and feedback can help to improve this quality year-on-year, enabling us to reflect on our own job progress, expertise and professional development.

<<< Back to top

Bibliography and weblinks

Brighouse, T. (1995) ‘The history of inspection’ in Brighouse, T. and Moon, B. (eds) School Inspection. London: Pittman.
Burton, N. (2000) ‘The Northamptonshire School Improvement Survey: a model for self-evaluation’, Management in Education, 14, pp. 9-11.
Davidson, G. (1996) ‘Using Ofsted criteria to develop classroom practice’, Teaching Geography, 22, 3, pp. 112-14.
Dowgill, P. (2004) ‘Good Practice in Meeting Individual Needs – findings from inspections.’ Presentation at the GTE Conference, January, Institute of Education, MMU, Manchester.
HEFCE (2001) Quality Assurance in Higher Education (HEFCE 01/45). July Consultation.
MacBeath, J. (1999) Schools Must Speak for Themselves. London: Routledge.
MacBeath, J. (2004) ‘Inside job’, Education Guardian, 20 April, pp. 8-9.
Maclure, S. (2000) The Inspector Calls. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Ofsted (1999a) Secondary Initial Teacher Training: Secondary subject inspections 1996-98 - Overview Report. London: HMSO.
Ofsted (1999b) Standards in the Secondary Curriculum 1997-98. London: HMSO.
Ofsted (2002) Handbook for the Inspection of Initial Teacher Training (2002-2008) (HMI 695). London: Ofsted.
Ofsted (2004a) How We Inspect Initial Teacher Training.
Ofsted (2004b) Chief Inspector Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Butler Act.
Shaw, L., Newton, D.P., Aitkin, M. and Darnell, ? (2003) ‘Do Ofsted inspections of secondary schools make a difference to GCSE results?’, British Educational Research Journal, 29, 1, pp. 63-73.
TTA (2002) Standards for the Award of Qualified Teacher Status (TTA. 02/02). London: TTA.
TTA (2003) Initial Teacher Training. Place Allocation for 2004/5. London: TTA.

<<< Back to top


Comment on this page

Comments made by GA members appear instantly and don't require security words to be entered - make sure you're logged in!   Guest comments will be sent to a moderator for approval.

GA members can add a profile picture and their comments appear instantly

Join the GA

Please complete all fields

Journals - Free Access for GA Members

The Summer 2014 issue of Primary Geography focuses on 'Cor!' geography, celebrating geography's unique ability to link with every subject in the curriculum and combine this with the subject's awe and wonder

The focus of this issue is 'health geography'. Besides the focus articles it includes many articles that will be useful to teachers planning a new key stage 3 for the autumn.

The Summer 2014 issue of Geography

Online Shop - Up to 30% Discount for all GA Members

Global Energy Security (DVD)

£61.99 / £50.99 *

Add to basket

Collins Junior World Atlas (Third edition)

£9.99 / £8.99 *

Add to basket

Debating Energy Futures: Coal, Gas and Nuclear (DVD)

£61.99 / £50.99 *

Add to basket
<-- -->

Your shopping basket is empty.

Items in basket 0

Basket Total £0.00

View/Edit Basket

* Applies to Full Personal, Group and
Concessionary members only

Resource Finder

Enter a keyword below or click 'advanced search' for more options

Advanced Search

Resources section
  • Find out more
  • Visit the Discover the World website for geography resources

© Copyright The Geographical Association 2013

Charity No: 1135148 Company No: 07139068

Website design and development by Ledgard Jepson