Training amiss for teaching MOT, warn unions

27th November 2009 at 00:00
NUT and NASUWT claim that no statutory right to support in new plans means staff could fail 'licence to teach'

Experienced teachers risk receiving insufficient training to qualify for a licence to teach under plans released this week, teaching unions have warned.

School staff could miss out on vital professional development at the same time as their performance comes under increased scrutiny, according to the NUT.

The teaching union has attacked the new three-year training blueprint published by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

The organisation said it fails to offer teachers any guarantees of the support they will need to pass the licence to teach, and is a set of "aspirations" rather than a firm to-do list.

Publication of the report has raised fears that training budgets for continuing professional development of staff will be hit as school budgets are squeezed.

The 2001 national CPD strategy was launched with great fanfare by David Blunkett, then education secretary, and included big-spending plans for bursaries, scholarships and international travel for teachers.

The new strategy, which appears less ambitious in scope, says professional development is a "right and responsibility" for all, but does not go into details about how much should be spent on training or how many hours staff are entitled to. There is one mention of the licence to teach - meaning teachers are left without a guarantee that they will receive training when the scheme starts.

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT, said there is "nothing meaningful" in the strategy for experienced teachers, who are unable to start the masters in teaching and learning.

"Plans are normally launched by ministers, but the Department for Children, Schools and Families seems to be at pains to remain at arm's length from this," he said.

"The document is extremely thin. We thought it would prepare the ground for the licence, but it's a set of aspirations. There's no mention of the entitlement of any teacher to CPD."

Chris Keates, general secretary of teaching union the NASUWT, also wants a firm commitment to training. "Teachers want CPD, not endless strategies," she said. "This is no substitute for ensuring that teachers and other members of the school workforce have a contractual entitlement to training and development."

It is estimated that the CPD costs in schools can vary from 0.25 to 15 per cent of the budget. The NUT said this variation needed to be addressed before the licence to teach starts, or some teachers will fail because they have not been given fair access to training.

Liz Francis, director of workforce strategy at the TDA, said work is still being done on teacher training guarantees. "Social partners and the DCSF are taking forward discussions regarding what an entitlement looks like," she said.

A DCSF spokesman said: "It's early days, and it's not surprising that TDA did not reference the licence to practice substantially in its report as we are currently legislating for the bill."

LOOK INTO THE LICENCE

- "Licence to teach" was announced in the 21st Century School white paper, released in June.

- Teachers were promised "entitlements to professional development and training". It's not yet known in detail what they will be. The TDA has written to the DCSF with suggestions for how the entitlement will work.

- Licences will have to be renewed; time limits have not yet been given.

- Teachers will have to keep their skills up-to-date.

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