'Licence to teach' faces axe ahead of election

2nd April 2010 at 01:00
Central elements of unpopular Bill likely to be shelved in pre-poll `wash-up'

Hugely controversial plans to force teachers to hold a "licence to teach" will be dropped from legislation because of staunch opposition within Parliament in the run-up to the general election, it is understood.

Vast swathes of the unpopular Children, Schools and Families Bill, currently being debated in the House of Lords, will be scrapped as the Bill is forced into law ahead of the general election, which is expected to be called next week.

The proposed licence, dubbed the "teaching MOT", would require teachers to show their skills, knowledge and training were up to date every five years, and was meant to be launched this September.

But urgent parliamentary horse-trading ahead of the dissolution of Parliament - known as "the wash-up - will leave the initiative shelved.

Also in line for the axe are most of the pupil and parent guarantees, such as a "right to PE", as well as reforms to rules on home education, which would have required home educators to register their children with the local authority.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are "absolutely opposed" to the main planks of the Bill, making it almost inevitable that they will be dropped.

David Laws, the Lib Dems' education spokesman, said "a huge number of teachers, parents and pupils will breathe a sigh of relief if most of the proposals never again see the light of day".

The Tories are equally opposed to the plans. One party source said: "We oppose the guarantees, we oppose the changes to home education and we oppose the licence to teach. There will be all sorts of negotiations once the time comes, but the strong likelihood is that these areas will be dropped. It is good news for teachers."

When it was announced last summer, the licence to teach - aka licence to practise - was dismissed as a "huge and costly bureaucratic measure" and another "hurdle" for teachers to jump.

The Bill also contained 23 guarantees for pupils and 15 for parents that a school would need to adhere to in order to ensure every child's "legal right" to a good education.

Under the plans, parents would be able to complain directly to the Local Government Ombudsman if they felt schools were failing to meet their end of the bargain.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Some of the guarantees are contradictory and will only improve the lot of the lawyers who will have the unenviable but lucrative task of making sense of these vague promises.

"Similarly, the licence to practise does not add anything to the new performance management system and existing competency procedures."

REFORMS RECONSIDERED: INS AN OUTS OF THE BILL

IN

  • School inspections to take into account the requirements of pupils with special educational needs
  • Personal, social and health education (PSHE) to be mandatory with one year of sex education
  • Provisions for the supply of information to local safeguarding children boards
    • OUT

      • The licence to practise
      • Changes to law over home-educating parents requiring registration with local authorities
      • Pupil and parent guarantee providing a series of entitlements and subsequent redress if not met.

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