As Gove raises bar on standards, teachers fear punishing regime

25th March 2011 at 00:00
Education Secretary vows to bring rigour to `woolly' criteria amid CPD concerns

Michael Gove has announced a major rethink of teachers' professional standards.

The review is the next step in the Westminster Education Secretary's quest to improve the quality of teaching.

Mr Gove has already made it clear that he intends to raise the bar for entry to PGCE training. Only those with a 2:2 degree or above will secure funding from the Department for Education (DfE) from September 2012.

Now he has shifted his focus to ensure greater rigour once people enter the profession. According to the DfE, current teaching standards are merely a "vague list of woolly aspirations".

It cites a survey commissioned by the General Teaching Council for England, released last year, which revealed that 41 per cent of teachers did not believe the standards made any difference to the way they taught.

Mr Gove said: "Headteachers and teachers have told me in no uncertain terms that the current teachers' standards are ineffective, meaningless and muddy, fluffy concepts."

Leading the review is Sally Coates, principal at Burlington Danes Academy in west London, who claims that with more than 100 standards, as well as the GTC's code of conduct, the area has become "bureaucratic and confusing" for heads and teachers alike.

The DfE states that just two of the 33 standards a trainee must meet to achieve qualified teacher status focus on skills and how to teach effectively.

Similarly, across all of the 102 standards, four focus on "health and wellbeing" while just two ensure teachers have good "subject and curriculum knowledge".

Critics argue that bringing in more stringent standards, focusing on teaching expertise and subject knowledge, is designed to make it easier for heads to remove incompetent teachers.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: "There is nothing wrong in principle with having a review of professional standards.

"(But) it is wrong to present the review in a context of denigrating teachers and implying that the profession is riddled with incompetence.

"Of deep concern, but by no means surprising, is the exemption of school leaders from the review. The Secretary of State's policies are either driven or (given credibility) by a small coterie of headteachers."

John Bangs, senior research associate at Cambridge University, said: "They may well simplify the standards and make them more classroom-based, but unless you link it with training and CPD they will be used in a punitive way.

"There will be unfairness, as teachers won't have access to CPD and headteachers will just use the standards as a stick to beat teachers with."


According to the review brief, there will be fewer than 10 standards, to be introduced by 2012, compared with the current 102. Teachers will be expected to:

- provide excellent teaching;

- crack down on bad behaviour;

- improve pupils' skills in the basics of English and maths;

- give better support to those who are falling behind.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today