An independent College of Teaching is to be established in England to improve the status of the profession and put in on an equal footing with medicine and law, ministers announced today.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan and Lib Dem schools minister David Laws have said teachers should be at the forefront of setting their own professional standards and improving teachers' skills.
In a joint statement, they said: "Many in the profession have talked of the need for a College of Teaching over the years. Yet such a professional body still does not exist. Teaching is almost unique among professions in lacking such an organisation. This is an idea whose time has come."
They added: "It is crucial that this body should be created and led by teachers, but government can help things along, and we will do all we can to ensure a new College of Teaching can open its doors within the next couple of years."
In addition to the College, the ministers also pledged funding to provide evidence-based continuing professional development for school staff.
The plans for a College of Teaching were already being developed under the supervision of the Prince's Teaching Institute.
In a Sutton Trust poll in May, 41 per cent of teachers said they supported plans for the College. The same proportion said they had not yet made up their mind, while 17 per cent opposed the proposals.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT heads' union, said this was a "pivotal moment for the teaching profession".
“School leaders voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a College at the NAHT Annual Conference in May 2014. Such a body is needed to help teaching establish itself as an autonomous, high status profession - with a voice on standards that is distinct from government, using evidence to determine good practice and promote professional development," said Mr Hobby.
“NAHT welcomes the fact that government sees itself in a facilitating role only and that the initiative and direction must now come from the profession itself. Independence and integrity are essential to any College's success. It will need to work hard to earn trust from both teachers and the public; this will be the central task of its first few years."
Peter Kent, president of the Association of School and College Leaders and headteacher of Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, said: “ASCL has strongly supported the development of a College of Teaching since the idea was first mooted. Creating an independent body owned and led by the teaching profession, which sets and maintains professional standards, is an important step in making sure teaching has the same high status as other professions.
"For it to succeed, the government must take a step back and trust the teaching profession to set the highest professional standards for itself. School leaders are ready to rise to the challenge and create a genuinely self-improving system which holds itself to account."