'Wide support' on teacher standards

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
MINISTERS ARE to press ahead with setting new standards of classroom competence.

The move follows a consultation exercise last year on a national framework for continuing professional development. The Scottish Office says responses have shown "wide support".

Helen Liddell, the outgoing Education Minister, promised that teacher competencies would be drawn up in consultation with teachers and backed by a development programme.

"This standard must include what those in the profession want," Mrs Liddell said. "It is not something which should be imposed on the profession."

The standard would be part of a wide-ranging set of competencies linked to probation, class teaching, promoted posts, specific roles within schools and management. The framework already includes the Scottish Qualification for Headship and a new standard for the end of probation being developed by the General Teaching Council.

The intention is that such a framework would leave teachers better equipped for their existing posts as well as being a means of staff development, and the general reaction was that it represented a positive step.

But some of the responses betrayed unease over the potential to link standards to qualifications and thence to pay. There was also "near unanimous" agreement that additional investment would be necessary if staff development was to improve.

The consultation revealed continuing disagreements, largely between the education authorities and the unions, over the role of the GTC - at least so long as the unions have the dominant voice on the council.

The authorities object to in-service plans having to be scrutinised by the GTC, saying the council does not have the resources. The opposing camp takes the view that the GTC must be able to regulate the profession beyond probation and that its interest in the subsequent careers of teachers should not be confined to cases of professional misconduct.

The future role of the GTC is likely to depend heavily on the current investigation being carried out by management consultants from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu as part of the regular five-yearly reviews of public bodies by the Scottish Office. The council itself believes it must help to sew "a seamless garment of professional development".

The Scottish Office recognises that, while there is support for a national framework for continuous professional development, a number of areas will require "detailed discussion and sensitive negotiation".

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