New teachers on the ropes

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Advice for teachers in their early career

Listen up new teachers, the draft standards for qualified teacher status, induction, senior (threshold), advanced skills and excellent teachers are out. Find time before the Training and Development Agency consultation* ends on February 28 to think about them, because your opinions matter.

You're perfectly placed to lend an air of reality and common sense to this process.

The QTS and induction standards are still set incredibly high : they describe a perfect teacher rather than someone learning the ropes. High expectations are great but, since failing to meet the standards at the end of induction results in teachers not being able to teach in state schools again, the criteria for passing need to ensure that only the irredeemably hopeless fail.

It's crazy for schools with high standards to be able to fail an average NQT for not meeting every standard. Unless the baseline is low, people will fail or local authorities, schools and colleges will resort to pretending new teachers meet the standards. Tell the TDA that standards like 1.3:

"communicate effectively with all children, young people, parents and carers" need to be qualified with phrases such as "begin to", or "with support".

The standards have been slimmed down to 18, but there are significant omissions. Teaching pupils with English as an additional language isn't mentioned and there's nothing about pedagogy. New teachers only have to have good knowledge of subjects.Using research findings is only expected of the advanced skills and excellent teachers. On the other hand, new teachers will have to "adopt an open, positive and constructively critical approach towards innovation", which seems unnecessary, hard to interpret and impossible to judge.

It's a shame the TDA hasn't taken this golden opportunity to draft one well thought through set of standards for the teaching profession, like the new 27 Northern Ireland competences** or the 12 for Chartered London Teacher status***. These recognise that each standard is a continuum to be met to different degrees depending on a teacher's role, experience and context.

Doesn't that make more sense?

* www.tda.gov.uk ** www.gtcni.org.uk *** www.clt.ac.uk

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