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Give teachers control of extra training

Six months ago, The TES front page read "It's the teachers, stupid". This was, in essence, the conclusion of a report from the global consultancy firm McKinsey, which argued that raising the status and quality of teachers must be at the heart of any attempt to create a world class education system.

Now a report from Labour's favourite think tank, the IPPR, argues for expansion of in-service training to raise the quality of teaching over the next decade (see page 1).

There are obvious concerns about this approach, especially regarding the quality of external courses, many of which are ineffective. Where possible, training should be based in schools. There is plenty of evidence that investing in this approach is an effective way of building teachers' professionalism and raising school standards.

In Finland, which has perhaps the best schools in the world, teachers have an afternoon a week to plan together, teach, and evaluate the impact. In England, the General Teaching Council has set up a teacher learning academy based on the idea that training should be centred on the teacher in the classroom.

It would need a re-think as to what training means. Non-contact time would need to be seen as an opportunity for collaborative planning and evaluation. But it would offer teachers a chance to seize control of their own development. That can only be a good thing.

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