Labour will pledge to stop state schools employing unqualified teachers – and promise to bring an end to the current Government’s “ideological obsession” with school structures.
Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, will tell a major education conference a top priority of a Labour government will be to end Prime Minister David Cameron’s policy of allowing free schools and academies to employ unqualified teachers.He will say: “International evidence is clear: the quality of teaching – not an obsessive focus on the type of school – is what drives up standards. “David Cameron and Michael Gove (Education Secretary) have watered down standards, allowing unqualified teachers into schools on a permanent basis.”
Inspectors investigating the New Discovery Free School – from which the Government is withdrawing funding because of fears over standards – revealed it had relied heavily on unqualified staff.
Mr Hunt, who will be speaking to the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham – the traditional annual education curtain raiser of the year, will also repeat his pledge that teachers will have to be “revalidated”, i.e licensed if they are to continue to teach. “Under Labour, all teachers will have to become qualified, teachers will be given greater opportunities to further their career progression and development and, as in other high status professions, teachers will be regularly revalidated.”
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the association of Teachers and Lecturers, welcome the pledge “to restore the professional standard of teaching”.“It’s a welcome contrast to Michael Gove believing that anyone with a first class degree, a bit of personality and a loud voice can be a good teacher,” she added.However, she said she was “disappointed” that the proposals for a licence to teach were linked to sacking under-performing teachers. “A licence to teach must be linked to professional entitlements for teachers, such as guaranteed access to effective training and support,” she added. Mr Gove has always insisted that the policy of allowing unqualified teachers into the classroom would put academies and free schools on an equal footing with independent schools – allowing them to hire outside experts from the field of drama, music and p.e, for instance.
Surely this is also an ideological obsession? The traditional view of a teacher entering the profession who has to go through a course of teacher training at a recognised institution is an out-dated concept. Most teachers bemoan most of their experience in such, recognising that the only way to learn is ‘on the job’. The task is to find out best how that can be done, and there have been many attempts to devise courses and qualifications which allow this. This sounds much like another politician’s effort to gain some street cred through what is what every parent expects ie that each teacher is qualified to teach. How that is done, for what subject/discipline,for what age group – these are the areas of discussion which need opening up.
His second point regarding professional development is standard, and, again, I thought that is what was happening already? We have appraisal systems, professional development in school and outside, competency procedures – what more do you want? Look at independent schools, Dr Hunt, to see what is going on. You do need variety, not, as seems to be the knee jerk reaction of Labour, an over-structured, one-size-fits-all system, with even more paperwork. Comments?