One of the things I learned early on in my career as an accountant was the importance of being part of a profession – a community of experts with a shared commitment to best practice.
And teachers are the experts who inspire the professionals of the future, so it is important teaching has the hallmarks of other great professions, including high-quality initial training, clear career pathways and an ongoing culture of self-improvement.
It is crucial teachers have a professional body to safeguard and develop those high standards, disseminate evidence and drive progress for the profession as a whole. That is why the launch of the independent Chartered College of Teaching marks a historic moment.
I have been very clear that my defining ambition as education secretary is to improve social mobility across our country. Teachers are the key to making sure that people can achieve their potential irrespective of where they start in life. I know that from my own personal experience: teachers are experts in levelling up opportunity for all our young people. That is why I want to do all I can to ensure there is the right framework of support for the teaching profession to flourish.
A strong teaching profession starts with high-quality initial teacher training. But that is just the first step – I want there to be an expectation of ongoing professional development throughout a teacher’s career.
Some people have suggested that the government might scrap Qualified Teacher Status. I want to be completely clear: this will not happen on my watch. In fact, I believe that we need to strengthen QTS.
This is not about removing school freedoms. But I do want QTS to be of such a high quality that school leaders will naturally want all their teaching staff to achieve it. QTS should be the foundation stone for the teaching profession to build on.
I am determined to work with teachers to shape what that will look like, and my aim is to introduce a newly strengthened QTS from September 2019.
'CPD throughout teachers' careers'
And I want CPD to run like a golden thread throughout teachers’ careers, with high-quality, evidence-based development available for all teachers, particularly in our most challenging schools.
To help with this, we have just announced the first round of bidding for the £75 million Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund. This will enable new, high-quality CPD provision to be delivered where it can make the most difference, including in the 12 Opportunity Areas where we want to galvanise social mobility to increase opportunity for young people.
It is also important that existing training is constantly reviewed, so that it keeps up with emerging practice and evidence. That is why our new, fully revised gold standard National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), developed in partnership with the teaching profession, will be implemented from September this year.
These new qualifications build on the already strong status of NPQs, with an even stronger emphasis on evidence and support for pupils who need it most.
And because I want to support and invest in the development of those people working in our most challenging schools, I have set aside up to £10 million to incentivise take-up for high-potential teachers and leaders working in them.
Looking at the teaching profession, of course there are broader challenges, but I think many of the key building blocks for success are now in place. Evidence and research-based teaching is already at the heart of what happens in our classrooms and the Chartered College can be a real driver for progress. Its establishment shows that the profession is stepping up to tackle the challenges in schools today and to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Teachers are the experts on teaching, and so I want to see the teaching profession leading on raising standards in schools. As education secretary, I will do all I can to ensure teachers have the right support that will enable them to spread opportunity for children and young people – particularly those who need it most. Great teaching transformed my life, and I want to make sure that happens for today’s generation of children in our schools.
Justine Greening is secretary of state for education