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Reasons to be cheerful about the masters degree for teachers

Graham Holley, Chief executive, Training and Development Agency for Schools

I agree with the description of the masters in teaching and learning (MTL) as heralding a "new era of teaching", but perhaps this will materialise in ways in which some have not fully understood ("The masters plan that's falling apart", March 13).

At the heart of the MTL is a new and exciting relationship - one in which higher education institutions (HEIs) and schools work together as consortia and both design and deliver the MTL in schools.

This is a different kind of masters: a national programme that will be delivered locally. It is school-based with the support of a fully funded, centrally trained coach working with an HEI tutor. It has been designed to develop teachers' professional knowledge, skills and understanding and help them be the best they can possibly be.

We recognise that the timeframes announced by ministers are challenging, and agree there are details that are yet to be agreed. But those MTL consortia which have been successfully appointed in the first instance are those that understand the MTL vision and are working with us to overcome those challenges. It clearly can be done with the right approaches.

Heads and teachers are excited about this new qualification - 700 people have signed up via our website to find out more. While recognising that there will be challenges to meet, many heads have told us that they see how the MTL can have a powerful impact - not just on the individual undertaking it, but on everyone in the school.

And I am happy to lay to rest some myths. It will not be more expensive to employ NQTs. The cost of their time out of the classroom will be funded.

The MTL is an idea whose time has come: working together, we can make the vision for a truly world-class profession a reality.

James Noble-Rogers, Executive director, and Professor Roger Woods, Chair, Universities Council for the Education of Teachers

While you highlight some of the practical difficulties associated with the launch of this grand-scale initiative, the masters in teaching and learning should nonetheless be encouraged.

The new degree has the potential to be a major step forward in the training of teachers, establishing a formal route for them into continuing development as they begin their careers.

Evidence from the Training and Development Agency for Schools' existing postgraduate professional development programme shows the positive impact that properly focused masters-level study can have on classroom performance.

We are committed to overcoming the difficult processes and challenges of launching the MTL and will strive to make it a success.

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