Schools minister David Laws has dismissed Labour’s plans for a “teacher MoT”, claiming it would become a “costly and bureaucratic nightmare”.
The plans were put forward by the shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt (pictured) last week, when he said that teachers would be expected to be relicensed over the course of their careers or risk being sacked.
Mr Hunt said that the move would help give teachers the same standing as other professionals such as lawyers and doctors.
But the idea was rubbished by Mr Laws today in a speech on improving the existing teacher workforce.
Speaking at the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham, he said that a teacher licence would risk being as “ineffective” as the last Labour government’s performance-related pay scheme introduced by the then-schools minister Andrew Adonis.
“Personally, I do not think that the answer is to introduce a top-down, government-administered licensing scheme. Such a scheme could easily become a costly and bureaucratic nightmare for schools,” Mr Laws said.
“There is a risk that such a scheme would be as ineffective as the last government’s top-down performance related pay scheme, in which virtually all teachers ended up with almost automatic progression.”
Talking after his speech, Mr Laws said that the policy would become too difficult to administer.
“It’s one of those policies that sounds tempting because the impression is given that it would both improve professional development and provide an easy way of sacking teachers who were not very good,” he said.
“But the truth is that when you look at how such a programme would be implemented, it's difficult to resist the conclusion that it could easily become a costly, bureaucratic top down exercise."
Mr Hunt needed to spell out who would be doing the relicensing and whether it would contradict headteachers, he added.
Speaking at the same conference yesterday, Mr Hunt said that he would be seeking views from teachers and organisations within the profession on how his proposed scheme would work.
In response to Mr Laws’ comments, Labour said that the policy would ensure all teachers were qualified with ongoing continued professional development throughout their careers.
“This is not about creating new bodies and bureaucracy, it’s about creating a culture change in schools to deliver the best teachers in the world,” a Labour spokesperson said. “We’ll work with teachers – and those seeking to set up the Royal College of Teachers – to ensure that this is profession-led.”