Select Committee calls for radical reforms


Schools are only as good as their teachers, the saying goes.

Of course, that’s overly simplistic, given that a schools intake and the socio economic profile of its pupils are an important variable.  But we know good teachers and good teaching have a significant impact on outcomes, even after  taking  into account the   socio economic context .  Indeed, this   goes some way to explaining why schools   with similar socio-economic intakes can perform so differently.

The DCSF Select Committee has just reported on Teacher Training, calling for radical reforms.

The committee confirmed that recruiting and retaining the best teachers can transform pupil attainment and bring new vision and energy into schools. It is not enough it claimed   to make-do-and-mend existing policies:  instead radical changes must take place.

The report said that teaching must be seen as an attractive career option for high achieving individuals. Entry requirements should therefore be raised, (echoing Tory policy proposals) and there must be better support for teachers once they are in post.

Barry Sheerman MP, the Committee chairman said “A failure to tackle the pressures faced by new teachers risks not only a dearth of teachers from the profession but also lasting damage to the educational experience of pupils. This must not be allowed to happen.”

Major reforms must be introduced to help newly qualified teachers make the transition from their initial training to their first teaching post, the report concluded.

Their report also says embedding a culture of continuous professional development (CPD) is imperative to ensure high levels of teacher quality and effectiveness.

The pressures on teachers at the start of their careers are considerable and the Committee calls for measures that reduce the front-loaded nature of teacher training. Much greater space and incentives for early career teachers to supplement initial training with a relevant masters qualification are vital. Mentoring support for these teachers must be improved and extended.

The Committee urges radical changes to teachers professional development, including the introduction of a single overarching framework for the management of teachers’ career progression. It says the ‘Chartered Teacher’ framework would encompass a licence to practise and link pay and progression to the completion of a master’s qualification and, thereafter, to completion of further accredited training.

The Committee seems to agree, at least in part, with the Tories view that it is important to raise the bar for entry to the profession. Entry requirements for much initial teacher training provision they say are too low and the bar must be raised.  Reforms should include discontinuing undergraduate programmes for those wanting to be secondary school teachers, which attract the poorest qualified candidates, and requiring postgraduate trainees to have a lower-second degree or above.

The Committee also said  that supply teachers must be brought into the mainstream of the profession, that, in the context of the 14-19 reforms, school and further education teachers should have much greater mobility across the two sectors, and that the training of early years, school and further education teachers should be harmonised through generic standards.

This report follows in the wake of a number   of others ,from think tanks and McKinsey, the management consultants,  which  all reinforce the same basic message-the best education  systems attract  and recruit the best graduates, train them  to a very high standard initially and then  support them throughout their careers,  while ensuring  that their pay and working conditions are attractive  and afford  them high professional status.


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