Professional? So prove it

5th October 2007 at 01:00
Registration should mean teachers must show they have upgraded their skills, says GTC boss

TEACHERS WOULD have to update their skills to remain fully registered professionals, like nurses and lawyers, under a proposal put forward by the head of England's General Teaching Council.

Keith Bartley, its chief executive, writes in today's TES that public trust in teachers would deepen if "active registration" was introduced.

At present, teachers stay on the register as long as they continue to pay their fees and are not convicted of serious crimes or struck off for poor conduct or incompetence.

But other professions must provide evidence that they have updated their skills, to stay registered.

A Department of Health white paper this year proposed a similar regime for doctors. And from next year, practising architects will be required to engage in continuing professional development.

Mr Bartley said he hoped to start a debate about active registration. The GTC has yet to consult on such a proposal, but he suggests the basic criteria should be a "commitment to, and participation in, continuing work-based learning".

Nurses are required to demonstrate that they have completed 35 hours of professional training; solicitors must complete 16 hours.

But Mr Bartley does not see "clocking up study" as an effective measure of active registration.

"Other professions require members to provide regular evidence that they have taken part in mandatory continuing professional development," he writes. "That is their interpretation of active registration, but not what I have in mind."

Mr Bartley said that most teachers working in maintained schools would automatically meet his criteria as the performance management framework requires schools to identify teachers' development needs.

But he suggested that greater training opportunities might be needed to help supply teachers or those returning from a career break.

Scotland's GTC said this year that it expected compulsory re-registration to become the norm, suggesting renewal every five years.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said teaching changed as rapidly as law or medicine, so it was legitimate to ask teachers to show they had kept up.

"One of the problems for someone who's been out of the profession is that they find it's changed since they took time out," he said.

But he was concerned that much of the CPD on offer was poor quality, and suggested teachers should take a university sabbatical every three years to refresh their skills.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, said heads should have to demonstrate every three years that they were still up to qualified teacher status standard, but that teachers did not need to do this as the performance management framework would ensure full-time, supply and returning teachers kept their skills up to date.

Further report, page 6

Leading article, page 28 Keith Bartley, page 28

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