DFE Circular 9/92 (1992)

This circular set out new criteria and procedures in England and Wales for the accreditation of courses of initial teacher training.

Note: only the circular itself had page numbers. I have shown the page breaks in the Annexes, but these pages were not numbered. I have used bullet points instead of the hyphens in the original.

The text of DFE Circular 9/92 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 5 October 2017.

Circular 9/92 (1992)
Initial Teacher Training (Secondary Phase)

Department for Education/Wesh Office
London: 1992
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

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Department for Education Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street London SW1P 3BT
Circular No 9/92
25 June 1992
Welsh Office Cathays Park Cardiff CF2 1SBCircular No 35/92
25 June 1992



1. This Circular introduces new criteria and procedures in England and Wales for the accreditation of courses of initial teacher training (ITT). The new procedures will apply to training for both primary and secondary phase teachers. The new criteria will apply to training for secondary phase teachers only. Accordingly this Circular replaces DES Circular 24/89 and Welsh Office Circular 59/89 except in relation to the criteria for the approval of primary phase courses, which are currently under review and for which new criteria will be introduced later, following consultation. A parallel Circular will be issued in Northern Ireland to replace DENI Circular 89/40 following a review of teacher training in Northern Ireland which will be completed later this year.

2. The criteria and procedures reflect the Government's proposals for reform in the consultation document issued on 28 January. They take account of the responses to the consultation document and the advice of the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CATE). They follow three main principles:

i. schools should play a much larger part in ITT as full partners of higher education institutions (HEIs);
ii. the accreditation criteria for ITT courses should require HEIs, schools and students to focus on the competences of teaching; and
iii. institutions, rather than individual courses, should be accredited for ITT.

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The Purpose of Accreditation

3. In order to teach in a maintained school, teachers are normally required to have qualified teacher status (QTS). This is usually obtained by successfully completing a course of ITT approved by the Secretary of State. The relevant statutory requirements are Section 218 of the Education Reform Act 1988 and the Education (Teachers) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/1319). The Secretary of State lays down the criteria by which he will approve courses and he is advised by CATE on whether courses meet those criteria. The purpose of these arrangements is to ensure that courses are a suitable preparation for teachers, in the context of the Government's policy objectives for schools. The approval of ITT courses is separate from their validation for academic purposes as courses leading to the award of a higher education qualification. Validation is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the Secretary of State's approval.

Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

4. CATE was established in 1984 and reconstituted in 1990, with wider terms of reference. The Government has decided to move to a system of accrediting HEIs on the basis of five-year development plans submitted to CATE for scrutiny. The terms of reference of the Council have therefore been amended to take account of this and will now be as follows:

  • to advise the Secretaries of State for Education, Wales and Northern Ireland on whether institutions should be accredited to offer ITT courses which lead to QTS, in accordance with their development plans;
  • to advise the Secretaries of State on whether individual ITT courses which do not fall within an institution's development plan meet the criteria for course approval;
  • to provide guidance to institutions on the accreditation criteria and procedures;
  • to advise whether approved courses continue to meet the criteria;
  • to identify and disseminate good practice in initial teacher training;
  • to keep the criteria for course approval under review and to advise the Secretaries of State on possible changes to them; and
  • to advise the Secretaries of State as requested on other matters relating to ITT.
5. CATE will issue guidance on the accreditation criteria, arrangements for partnerships between HEIs and schools, and procedures for institutional accreditation.

Accreditation procedure

6. A detailed description of the new procedure is set out at Annex B. It will entail important changes in CATE's method of working and in the balance of time and effort which it devotes to different aspects of its remit. The Offices of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for England

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and for Wales (OHMCI) will arrange visits to HEIs and their partner schools to complement CATE's scrutiny of development plans. OHMCI will plan inspections in consultation with the Department for Education (DFE) Welsh Office Education Department (WOED), CATE and the HE Funding Councils.

7. Accredited institutions will be entitled to introduce new courses and to make changes to courses without submitting them for scrutiny to CATE, provided that they are within the scope of their development plans as accredited. CATE will need to consider individually proposals for new courses which are outside the scope of an institution's accredited development plan and new courses introduced before an institution's plan has been scrutinised. The Secretary of State will ask OHMCI to monitor courses during the period of the plan. CATE may recommend to the Secretary of State that accreditation should be suspended or withdrawn, where they have evidence that courses no longer conform to the basis on which they were accredited.

8. Further information on the procedure for approving courses during the interim stage, before institutional development plans are available, and on the timing of the submission of these plans, will be issued separately by the DFE and WOED in consultation with CATE.

Local Committees

9. The Secretary of Stare is grateful for the contributions made by local committees since 1990, but he has concluded that it should no longer be a requirement that before a course or a development plan is submitted to CATE it shall have been considered and proposed by a local committee. It will be for HEIs to consider whether they wish to continue to utilise in other ways the experience which members of local committees have gained.

New Criteria

10. The new criteria for courses of ITT for secondary education are set out in Annex A to this Circular. They come into force with effect from 1 September 1992. The Government expects all relevant courses to be adapted to meet these criteria as soon as possible, and not later than 1 September 1994. It may be helpful to draw attention to two points:

  • the minimum time students are to spend on the premises of partner schools in full-time secondary PGCE courses should be 24 weeks, in part-time courses 18 weeks, in two and three year secondary undergraduate courses 24 weeks and in four year secondary undergraduate courses 32 weeks.
  • A decision on whether students should have attained a standard equivalent to GCSE science Grade C before entering a course will be taken in Autumn 1992, when up-to-date information on the qualifications of those entering training will become available.
11. The statements of the competences expected of newly qualified teachers do not purport to provide a complete syllabus for initial teacher training. They specify the issues on which the

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case for approval will be considered. It is recognised that institutions are developing their own competence-based approaches to the assessment of students.

Partnership with schools

12. The Government expects all secondary and middle schools, sixth form and tertiary colleges in England and Wales, both maintained and independent, to have an opportunity to become partners in initial teacher training if they wish to do so. Schools interested in partnership should approach HEIs. HEIs should make explicit in their development plans and to schools their criteria for the formation of partnerships, which should include the use of indicators as evidence of quality of teaching and learning.

13. Schools will be expected to describe the contributions they are able to make to the training of students and to the planning and management of courses, with particular reference to their track record in the professional development of their existing staff, school facilities, the education of children with special needs, and opportunities for extra-curricular activities. Schools should specify the subjects in which they propose to offer training, and the number of students they are able to accommodate each year. Where HEIs do not accept a school's offer of partnership, they should make clear the reasons for their decision. The Secretary of State reserves the right to withhold approval from an institution's courses of initial teacher training if there were evidence that individual schools had been treated arbitrarily or unreasonably.

14. The Government expects that partner schools and HEIs will exercise a joint responsibility for the planning and management of courses and the selection, training and assessment of students. The balance of responsibilities will vary. Schools will have a leading responsibility for training students to teach their specialist subjects, to assess pupils and to manage classes; and for supervising students and assessing their competence in these respects. HEIs will be responsible for ensuring that courses meet the requirements for academic validation, presenting courses for accreditation, awarding qualifications to successful students, and arranging student placements in more than one school. The guidance which CATE will be issuing will cover in more detail the factors which HEIs and secondary schools should take into account in the formation and development of partnerships.


15. The Government intends that the increased contribution of partner schools to teacher training should be recognised, through transfers of resources from HEIs. The actual net extra costs will vary according to the local situation and existing arrangements. Transfers should therefore be negotiated locally, on the basis of clear statements of the new roles and responsibilities of schools. The Secretary of State does not intend to intervene in the event of disagreements about the financial arrangements between HEIs and individual schools, but the costs to schools and the resources transferred to them will be monitored closely.

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16. HEIs currently receive from the Higher Education Funding Councils and from fee income about 3750 on average for each secondary PGCE student in training. An additional 6 million is being made available to HEIs through the Funding Councils, in 1992-93, to meet net extra costs incurred during the transition to the new criteria, including the cost of release time and supply cover for teachers who will have specific responsibilities, both for their own preparation and for time spent training students. Additional resources are also being made available by the Welsh Office to the HEIs in Wales. Provision for later years of the transitional period up to the deadline by which all courses are to be adapted to meet the new criteria will be settled nearer the time.


To: All Local Education
Authorities in England and Wales;

All institutions which provide courses
of initial teacher training;

All Headteachers and Governing Bodies
of maintained and independent
secondary schools;

All Teacher Associations;

Other interested bodies






2.2 Subject Knowledge

2.3 Subject Application

2.4 Class Management

2.5 Assessment and Recording of Pupils' Progress

2.6 Further Professional Development

3.1 General

3.2 - 3.3 Subject Studies and Application to Pupils' Learning

3.4 School-based Work

4.1 Staffing

4.2 Selecting Students

4.3 - 4.8 Student Entry Requirements


1.1 All newly qualified teachers entering maintained schools should have achieved the levels of knowledge and standards of professional competence necessary to maintain and improve standards in schools.

1.2 The planning and management of training courses should be the shared responsibility of higher education institutions and schools in partnership.


2.1 Higher education institutions, schools and students should focus on the competences of teaching throughout the whole period of initial training. The progressive development of these competences should be monitored regularly during initial training. Their attainment at a level appropriate to newly qualified teachers should be the objective of every student taking a course of initial training.

Subject Knowledge

2.2 Newly qualified teachers should be able to demonstrate:

2.2.1 an understanding of the knowledge, concepts and skills of their specialist subjects and of the place of these subjects in the school curriculum;

2.2.2 knowledge and understanding of the National Curriculum and attainment targets (NCATs) and the programmes of study (PoS) in the subjects they are preparing to reach, together with an understanding of the framework of the statutory requirements;

2.2.3 a breadth and depth of subject knowledge extending beyond PoS and examination syllabuses in school.

Subject Application

2.3 Newly qualified teachers should be able to:

2.3.1 produce coherent lesson plans which take account of NCATs and of the school's curriculum policies;

2.3.2 ensure continuity and progression within and between classes and in subjects;

2.3.3 set appropriately demanding expectations for pupils;

2.3.4 employ a range of teaching strategies appropriate to the age, ability and attainment level of pupils;

2.3.5 present subject content in clear language and in a stimulating manner;

2.3.6 contribute to the development of pupils' language and communication skills;

2.3.7 demonstrate ability to select and use appropriate resources, including Information Technology.
Class Management

2.4 Newly qualified teachers should be able to:

2.4.1 decide when teaching the whole class, groups, pairs, or individuals is appropriate for particular learning purposes;

2.4.2 create and maintain a purposeful and orderly environment for the pupils;

2.4.3 devise and use appropriate rewards and sanctions to maintain an effective learning environment;

2.4.4 maintain pupils' interest and motivation.

Assessment and Recording of Pupils' Progress

2.5 Newly qualified teachers should be able to:

2.5.1 identify the current level of attainment of individual pupils using NCATs, statements of attainment and end of key stage statements where applicable;

2.5.2 judge how well each pupil performs against the standard expected of a pupil of that age;

2.5.3 assess and record systematically the progress of individual pupils;

2.5.4 use such assessment in their teaching;

2.5.5 demonstrate that they understand the importance of reporting to pupils on their progress and of marking their work regularly against agreed criteria.

Further Professional Development

2.6 Newly qualified teachers should have acquired in initial training the necessary foundation to develop:

2.6.1 an understanding of the school as an institution and its place within the community;

2.6.2 a working knowledge of their pastoral, contractual, legal and administrative responsibilities as teachers;

2.6.3 an ability to develop effective working relationships with professional colleagues and parents, and to develop their communication skills;

2.6.4 an awareness of individual differences, including social, psychological, developmental and cultural dimensions;

2.6.5 the ability to recognise diversity of talent including that of gifted pupils;

2.6.6 the ability to identify special educational needs or learning difficulties;

2.6.7 a self-critical approach to diagnosing and evaluating pupils' learning, including a recognition of the effects on that learning of teachers' expectations;

2.6.8 a readiness to promote the moral and spiritual well-being of pupils.



3.1.1 Courses for the secondary phase should cover the age ranges 11-16 or 11-18;

3.1.2 the content and structure of training courses should be designed to develop students' knowledge and professional competences as set out in Section 2;

3.1.3 course plans should state how all the elements are to be integrated;

3.1.4 all courses should introduce students to the NCATs and PoS in the subjects they are preparing to teach.

Subject Studies and Subject Application to Pupils' Learning

i. Undergraduate Courses

3.2.1 The content of the subject studies in students' courses should be at a level appropriate to higher education:

3.2.2 the period of subject study should be at least the equivalent of two years; the subject studies should be in no more than two subjects;

3.2.3 there should be the equivalent of a further one-third of a year for subject application;

3.2.4 all elements of subject application should include training in the teaching and assessment of students' specialist subjects.

ii. Postgraduate Courses
3.3 Postgraduate courses should focus on the application of students' subject specialisms to the teaching and assessment of pupils.

School-based work

3.4.1 No degree or other qualification leading to qualified teacher status should be awarded unless the student has demonstrated in the classroom:
  • the ability to teach effectively and to secure effective learning;
  • the ability to manage pupil behaviour. 3.4.2 Students should be given opportunities to observe good teachers at work in primary as well as secondary classrooms, to participate with experienced practitioners in teaching their specialist subjects and, as confidence develops, to undertake periods of continuous whole class teaching. Students should have the opportunity to practice teaching in at least two schools during their training.

    3.4.3 The amount of time spent by students in schools during teacher training courses should be at least:

    a. 24 weeks in full-time one year secondary PGCE courses and two year secondary PGCE "conversion" courses;

    b. 24 weeks in full-time two year and three year secondary undergraduate courses;

    c. two-thirds of the intercalated period of teacher training (which leads to a separate Certificate of Education) in four year secondary concurrent undergraduate courses;

    d. 32 weeks in all other full-time four year courses;

    e. 18 weeks in part-time courses.



    4.1 Institutions and their partner schools should ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all the higher education and school staff concerned with courses of initial teacher training are specified clearly in course plans and should satisfy themselves that:

    4.1.1 all such staff are appropriately qualified and prepared before they undertake the training of students;

    4.1.2 staff concerned with subject application and educational and professional studies have relevant experience of teaching in schools, and maintain and develop that experience.

    NOTE: All courses falling within 3.4.3 are to meet this criterion by September 1994.

    Selecting Students

    4.2 In the selection of students, institutions and schools should establish procedures to ensure that:

    4.2.1 candidates possess personal and intellectual qualities suitable for teaching, and the physical and mental fitness to teach;

    4.2.2 no candidate is admitted to a course without a personal or group interview.

    Student entry requirements

    i. General

    4.3 Institutions and schools should satisfy themselves that:

    4.3.1 all entrants are able to communicate clearly and grammatically in spoken and written English, and where appropriate, Welsh;

    4.3.2 all entrants have attained in Mathematics and English language the standard required to achieve a grade C in the GCSE examination.

    ii. Postgraduate Courses

    4.4 In the case of postgraduate courses, higher education institutions and schools should satisfy themselves that:

    4.4.1 entrants hold a degree of a United Kingdom university or the CNAA or a recognised equivalent qualification; and

    4.4.2 the content of entrants' initial degrees is appropriate to the secondary school curriculum.

    iii. Extended Postgraduate Courses

    4.5 Certain postgraduate courses are designed to provide students with the equivalent of two years of subject study in a designated shortage subject by incorporating a year of subject study in addition to that in their initial degree. Higher education institutions should ensure that the content of candidates' initial degrees includes at least one year of full-time higher education study relevant to the appropriate subject specialism.

    iv. Undergraduate Courses

    4.6 In the case of undergraduate courses, higher education institutions should satisfy themselves that, subject to criteria 4.7 and 4.8, entrants:

    4.6.1 fulfil the academic requirements for admission to first degree studies; and

    4.6.2 hold an A level pass, or equivalent, or have successfully completed a recognised Access course appropriate to their intended main subject specialism or specialisms.
    v. Shortened Undergraduate Courses

    4.7 Shortened undergraduate courses are designed for students with some experience of higher education below the standard of a recognised degree. Institutions should satisfy themselves that entrants have satisfactorily completed at least one year of higher education in the appropriate subject or subjects.

    vi. Non-standard entry to full length Undergraduate Courses

    4.8.1 Higher education institutions may admit to full length undergraduate courses mature students who lack conventional entry qualifications for first degree studies where they are satisfied as to the intellectual capacity of the student to complete a degree course successfully.

    4.8.2 Admission records should detail the grounds on which such students are admitted.

    Annex B


    1. The procedure for accreditation of the full range of an HEI's ITT courses will in future be as follows:

    • first, submission by the HEI of a 5-year development plan to CATE;
    • second, an inspection and report by OHMCI, to be followed by a response from the HEI;
    • third, consideration of the report and response by CATE, which may include a visit by a panel of Council members augmented by others with experience of ITT or its accreditation;
    • fourth, a recommendation to the Secretary of State by CATE for accreditation or provisional accreditation;
    • fifth, a decision by the Secretary of State.
    After accreditation has been given, CATE may recommend to the Secretary of State that it be suspended or withdrawn, on the basis of evidence from the monitoring of courses.


    2. The development plan should take as its starting point the HEI's existing portfolio of approved courses of initial teacher training, give details of proposed changes and how these will be effected, and - as far as these can be foreseen - indicate plans for new courses over the five year period.

    3. HEIs' development plans, which should be consistent with the strategic plans submitted to the HE Funding Councils, will be required to demonstrate:

    i. understanding of and commitment to the accreditation criteria;

    ii. commitment to effective partnerships with schools in securing initial teacher training, making clear the basis on which schools are to be included in such partnerships:

    iii. capacity for sustained critical analysis in the planning, delivery and management of initial teacher training;

    iv. the procedures for assuring control of quality and how they would be further developed.

    4. The plans should describe the ITT course design and management strategies of the HEIs and their partner schools, and specific arrangements for:
    • satisfying the criteria in relation to individual courses;

    • a procedure within the institution for ensuring that the criteria are satisfied;
    • validating courses;
    • admitting students;
    • staff development;
    • agreements with partner schools, setting out the services which schools are to provide and to be paid for;
    • assessing student competences including formal opportunities for students to share their self-assessment with tutors and mentors;
    • profiling students for employers;
    • obtaining feedback from employers and newly qualified teachers.

    5. The development plan will form the basis on which OHMCI undertakes the work assigned to it by the Secretary of State. OHMCI will consider whether the training is effective in achieving its declared objectives, will assess the quality of students' work and performance in schools and will provide CATE with evidence about whether the structure and content of the courses meet the criteria.


    6. CATE will assess whether the courses covered by the HEI's development plan meet the Secretary of State's criteria. If the Council is satisfied with the development plan, the evidence in the report of OHMCI and the institution's response it will recommend to the Secretary of State accreditation of the institution. The award of accreditation would mean that all the institution's courses existing at the time would be approved. Modifications and new courses introduced later within the scope of the development plan would be assumed to meet the criteria and would not require separate approval. At the end of the period the accreditation would be reviewed, taking account of evidence from OHMCI.

    7. If there is critical evidence from the OHMCI and CATE is not satisfied with the development plan the Council may either:

    i. recommend provisional accreditation, with a stated period of time for accompanying conditions to be met; or

    ii. decline to make a recommendation, thereby requiring the HEI concerned to reconsider its development plan or its response to OHMCI's findings and, within a given period (normally between one and two years) to reapply for accreditation.

    If the second application was unsuccessful CATE would recommend the Secretary of State to withdraw approval from the institution's courses of initial teacher training.

    8. Any mid-term course proposals, arising outside development plans from either national or local initiatives, will be considered separately by CATE, following advice from OHMCI.


    9. Finally the Secretary of State will consider the recommendation from CATE and either approve or not approve an institution's accreditation and any courses which are outside the scope of the development plan. If approval were to be withdrawn it would be for him to decide when that should take effect.

    10. The Secretary of State will ask OHMCI to monitor courses during the period of institutions' development plans and to submit reports to CATE. If it became clear from OHMCI reports and CATE's own visits and correspondence that an institution's courses were not meeting the criteria, as promised in its development plan, CATE could recommend to the Secretary of State that approval should be suspended or withdrawn until such time as the necessary changes were made.