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Course Organization - Interviewing


This article provides a brief overview of the admission requirements for trainees onto ITT courses and the criteria against which OfSTED inspectors are required to evaluate courses. The central importance of the interview in the admissions process is emphasised and the practical procedures used in one institution are exemplified.

Key words: Requirements, Admissions, Interviews.


1.0 Trainee Entry Requirements and Admissions - overview
2.0 Trainee Entry Requirements - race and gender
3.0 Examples of interviewing procedures

1.0 Trainee Entry Requirements and Admissions - overview

The Ofsted Handbook for the Inspection of Initial Teacher Training (2002-2008) states that the ‘inspection of management and quality assurance will aim to answer the question:

  • How well does the management of the provision assure high-quality training and continuous improvement?’

In doing this 3 subsidiary questions are considered, the one relevant to this section asks:

Are the selection procedures designed and managed to meet the requirements of R1 (this referring to the Requirements laid down in Qualifying to Teach (DfES 2002).

In doing this inspectors are required to evaluate and report on:

  • The accuracy and clarity of the information given to prospective trainees about the training programmes
  • The effectiveness of the provider’s equal opportunities and race equality policies and the efforts made to recruit trainees from minority ethnic and other underrepresented groups
  • The appropriateness of the selection criteria for each stage of the selection process
  • The effectiveness of the interviews in identifying suitable trainees
  • The identification, recording and communication to trainees of relevant information on any developmental activities that they need to undertake to help them prepare for the training.

In making judgements, inspectors will consider the extent to which:

  • Trainees are accurately informed about the Requirements and the nature of the course of training before enrolling onto the training programme
  • Applicants are thoroughly checked against the Requirements (R1)
  • The publicity material, prospectuses and other documentation reveal an inclusive approach to recruitment and minority ethnic groups are encouraged to apply
  • The provider monitors the implementation of its equal opportunities and race equality policies in the selection procedures
  • Interviews are designed and implemented to ensure that trainees accepted onto training programmes are likely to meet the relevant standards by the end of the training
  • The partnership is actively involved in the selection process
  • Trainees are made aware of any developmental activities that they should undertake in relation to R1.

The Handbook gives some examples of the characteristics that are likely to be indicative of particular grades.

Mention has been made above of Requirement 1 (R1). The Qualifying to Teach Handbook of Guidance states that the ‘aim of the Requirements on trainee entry is to ensure that anyone admitted to ITT is suitable to become a teacher and has the potential to meet the Standards for the award of QTS.’ This is expanded in the Handbook itself.

The issue of a candidate's ‘physical and mental fitness to teach’ is explored in Able to Teach – a document produced by the TTA (ref. TEA0287).

Download C1.0_1.0a 'Characteristics of satisfactory management and quality assurance'
Download C1.0_1.0b 'Qualifying to Teach'

2.0 Trainee Entry Requirements - race and gender

Throughout the admissions procedure providers must ensure that they are aware of their statutory responsibilities in relation to racial equality, gender and disability and that their procedures comply with these.

The requirements also state that providers ‘need to ensure that their admission policy promotes equality of opportunity and does not discriminate against any group of potential applicants. They should therefore monitor the impact of their admission policy.’

Download C1.0_2.0a 'Legislation Summary'

3.0 Examples of interviewing procedures

It is clear that admission decisions remain a matter for an individual provider's own judgement. It is equally clear that the decisions need to be robust and that all of the requirements have been addressed and met during the selection procedure. In summary these are: 

  • R1.1 Potential to reach the Standards
  • R1.2 achievement of a standard equivalent to a grade C in the GCSE examination in English and mathematics.
  • R1.3 achievement, by entrants born on or after 1 September 1979 who enter primary or Key Stages 2/3 training, of a standard equivalent to a grade C in the GCSE examination in a science subject.
  • R1.4 Physical and mental fitness to teach
  • R1.5 Suitability to teach
  • R1.6 Use of English 
  • R1.7 Degree Requirements
  • R1.8 Interviews

It will be necessary to demonstrate that admissions procedures are as robust as possible. It might be a good idea to ensure that some sort of policy document exists which details these procedures especially when more than one colleague will be operating them and for when external partners are involved in the process. An example of such a process policy for admission to a postgraduate secondary science course is attached (see Download 3.0a).

As the interview is of central importance, effective interview technique is vital (see Download 3.0b).

At the University of Gloucestershire interviews are conducted with groups of about 4 candidates at a time. Following an introduction to the course structure, candidates discuss, as a group, their responses to a series of elicitation questions, whilst the two interviewers listen. The aim is to assess:
(a) the extent of candidates' active science understanding that they can bring to bear on the topic,  
(b) to assess their ability to listen to others' points of view, and explain their own, 
(c) to be ready to accept that they can be 'wrong' or be willing to change their mind during discussion when they realise they have not seen the full picture, and
(d) to alert them to the idea that pupils will leave school with a number of basic misconceptions [displayed buy the candidates during this session!] which can persist even through a science degree. Part of their job as a teacher will be to challenge these naive ideas as pupils progress through the school.

Download 3.0c is an overview of the interview process and download 3.0d is the actual questions used in 2003-4 [they change each year]. These are sent to the candidates in advance, but not, of course, with the answers, which are there for the benefit of the interviewers.

Download C1.0_3.0b 'Interview techniques'
Download C1.0_3.0c 'Format of Interview'
Download C1.0_3.0d 'Science Interview questions WITH ANSWERS'

This section authored by:
Neil Herrington, UEL London

Published: 23 Jan 2005