NUT: 'Double time spent on training and spend more on staff development'

13th February 2009 at 00:00
Union's submission to Commons committee calls for better quality training and evaluation

NUT leaders have called for the length of time taken to train as a teacher to be doubled. It has also demanded more money to be spent on professional development as part of a Government review.

The recommendations come as a new inquiry into teacher training by the Commons select committee on children, schools and families gets under way. In its submission to the committee - seen by the The TES - the union calls for every teacher to have the right to post-PGCE training.

The inquiry is investigating what affects the quality of courses and examining how the quality of teaching can be measured.

Teachers must be able to influence changes to initial training and CPD if new courses are to succeed, and any new national strategy must be matched by action and funding, the NUT said. The committee will also try to discover if initial teacher training courses take on people with the right characteristics to be good teachers, and if the routes into the profession are effective in attracting people from a mixture of backgrounds.

They will also look at the quality of CPD provision and how it is evaluated and funded.

In his submission to the committee, John Bangs, head of education for the NUT, says teachers will become resentful of CPD that isn't up to scratch.

"Any national strategy for teachers' CPD must be matched by action and by funding, as teachers will judge it by its implementation. In particular, it must be a true entitlement, which meets the needs that they have identified for themselves, and enables a high degree of ownership of it," he said.

"If it is regarded as a burden, it will lead to teacher resentment and will not contribute to raising standards in schools. It is vital that teachers have a real choice in the nature of any training, where and when it takes place. It is equally vital that the Government created the conditions where teachers can be reflective and see learning, developing and improving as integral parts of their job."

The NUT wants CPD courses such as best practice research scholarships, which ran for three years until 2003 and gave teachers cash to complete research and other sabbatical programmes, to be reinstalled and expanded.

The union thinks the impact of CPD should be evaluated by talking to teachers about the effects it has had on their professional practice and attitudes rather than allowing it to affect their pay.

In the submission, Mr Bangs says the training departments at the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Training and Development Agency should be strengthened and integrated with the work of the Department for International Development to allow teachers the chance to work abroad.

Local authorities should also have CPD advisory committees.

He also wants the Government's presumption that CPD improves pupils' results to be examined.

Many teachers pay towards part of the costs of any professional development, but Mr Bangs thinks their dedication to study should be the only contribution expected by the Government and CPD should be funded "properly".

CPD bursaries and scholarships are available to teachers in Wales.

The union also thinks the selection process for initial teacher training courses should be standardised, with candidates having to spend time in school before their interview.

It has also called for an independent enquiry into the management of the allocation of places on courses.

Mr Bangs thinks the Government should explore the possibility of making PGCE and ITT courses two years long and the QTS skills tests could even become part of the interview process.

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