As the Donaldson review of teacher education in Scotland gets under way, the message from influential MPs at Westminster is that undergraduate training courses in England only attract poorly-qualified teacher hopefuls and should be shut down.
The Commons schools select committee is calling for the closure of all secondary BEd courses. "A three-year undergraduate degree is no longer appropriate for those wanting to teach children in secondary schools; they must be specialists in a subject," said Barry Sheerman, the committee's Labour chairman.
Secondary BEd courses should go, he said, but primary undergraduate degrees could stay as long as their entry requirements were raised and they were more "rigorous", the MPs said.
Their report also demands urgent changes to the way staff qualify to work in schools and expresses "concern" at the high numbers of applicants without A-levels or degrees and the "patchy" quality of many courses. It suggests there should be an increase in on-the-job training and courses should be more elite - policies already advocated by the Tories. Excessive bureaucracy was having a "deadening" effect on teacher training.
Additionally, it criticises the Training and Development Agency for Schools for not doing enough to improve professional development. It also says the Government's proposed licence to teach should be a device for "weeding out" the worst teachers and there should be a more "streamlined" process for getting rid of underperformers.
The MPs suggest a "chartered" status for the profession, instead, so teachers are paid according to their level of training, not just experience.
Keith Bartley, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for England, said the committee's comments about licence to teach meant the Department for Children, Schools and Families needed to provide "more clarity". He aded: "There seems to be a contradiction between the committee's view that the licence to practise proposed by the Government should be used to weed out poorly-performing teachers, and its recently- stated intentions for the licence."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, welcomed the committee's call for CPD funding to be ring-fenced. School spending on CPD ranges from 0.25 per cent to 15 per cent of total budgets.