Staff happy to road-test teaching MOT

2nd October 2009 at 01:00
Most believe the new 'licence to teach' would boost standards, survey reveals

The vast majority of teachers believe that the controversial "licence to teach" will improve standards as long as it is backed by schools, according to a poll.

Under government plans, all teachers will have a licence, renewable every five years, to show that their skills, knowledge and training are up to date. Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, said the initiative will boost the status of teachers and ensure that schools are dealing with weak performance.

According to a survey carried out by Teachers TV, almost 75 per cent of school staff believe the scheme will improve teaching quality, although most said it would need the support of schools to succeed.

Twenty-six per cent of the 998 respondents said the scheme would have no impact on standards.

The poll found that just over half of schools actively encourage staff to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) training. Almost half of respondents said CPD is valuable, but that it is currently undervalued and given insufficient resources.

Andrew Bethell, chief executive of Teachers TV, said: "There was a clear confidence among the profession that rather than being a threat, licensing could help to demonstrate their value and raise standards.

"There was some scepticism about the implementation of any such initiative, however, and it is clear that schools would need to demonstrate their commitment to providing time and resources."

However, teaching union the NUT has been gathering signatures for a petition against the licence at the political party conferences.

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said a check-up of teachers' skills was understandable only if teachers had been out of the classroom for a long time.

"There are already any number of systems by which teachers are measured and assessed," she said, when launching the petition. "A licence to teach for everybody is overkill."

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT, said the union had received a "very hostile" reaction to the proposed scheme.

"It is not linked to a statutory entitlement to professional development and is not something that teachers can own," he said.

"We have made a long-standing demand for teachers to have a cash sum they can spend on CPD every year and a sabbatical of one term every seven years. Licence to teach simply feels like an additional hoop for teachers to jump through."

Mr Bangs criticised the disparities between schools in their spend on CPD. "But the requirements expected of teachers to secure their licence will be the same," he said.

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