'Teacher MoT' plan unveiled by Labour

11th January 2014 at 09:45

Teachers would have to be relicensed during their careers and could be sacked if they fail tough check-ups on their abilities under plans unveiled by Labour.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said that the proposals would help give teachers the same standing as professionals such as doctors and lawyers.

Mr Hunt told the BBC that he wanted the "enormously important" role of teachers to be recognised.

"Just like lawyers and doctors, they should have the same professional standing, which means relicensing themselves, which means continued professional development, which means being the best they can possibly be," he said.

"If you're not a motivated teacher – passionate about your subject, passionate about being in the classroom – then you shouldn't really be in this profession."

The move by Dr Hunt comes after his opposition to the government's policy of allowing free schools and academies to hire teachers without qualified teacher status (QTS). Dr Hunt has insisted that all teachers will have to acquire QTS.

A similar proposal was floated by the previous Labour government – and branded "classroom MoTs" – by former schools secretary Ed Balls, but the plan was opposed by some teaching unions and dropped before the 2010 general election.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said that she had serious doubts about the new proposal.

"The fact is that teachers are very highly observed. Many of our members describe themselves as being surveilled the whole time," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"What Tristram Hunt did not announce was any kind of properly well-funded, rigorous CPD system to which teachers have access.

"When he talks about lawyers and doctors, they attend good quality CPD, they get the points. That does not sound like what he is announcing for teachers. There will be a good many teachers who will just see this as another hurdle."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said that the proposals could only work within a national framework of pay and conditions, an entitlement to continuing professional development and regulations to ensure that all teachers and heads hold formal qualifications.

“As in medicine, a licence to practise in teaching should apply to headteachers and not just teachers, as it does to consultants as well as junior doctors.

“It should apply to state and independent schools. Doctors in the private sector must also be licensed.

“It is deeply debilitating and demoralising for teachers that any attempt to have a public debate about developing the teaching profession is … presented as a system to ‘root out incompetent teachers’".

A Conservative Party spokesman said that it was willing to look at any proposals that will "genuinely improve the quality of teaching".

He said: "We have already taken action by allowing heads to remove teachers from the classroom in a term, as opposed to a year previously, and scrapping the three-hour limit on classroom observations.

"We are improving teacher training, expanding Teach First and allowing heads to pay good teachers more. Thanks to our reforms, a record proportion of top graduates are entering the profession."


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