TES Extra - CPD - Masters level will boost profession

Victoria Neumark

Passion is a word seldom linked to civil servants, but Graham Holley is unabashed.

"I am passionate about education and improving young people's lives," says the chief executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), reviewing his three decades in public service.

Furthermore, although he is pleased with the "lots of good things" done during the past two and a half years that he has been in charge at the TDA, it is the agency's latest plan for a new masters degree in teaching and learning that really fires him up. He calls it "radical", "transformative", "a step change". And over the next 10 years, it is going to affect every one of the 440,000 teachers in England.

The masters degree will be trialled from September 2009. Initially it will be offered to all newly qualified teachers in the North West, plus teachers in National Challenge schools with poor GCSE results.

The TDA will lay down the national framework for the qualification, for higher education institutions and schools to use to develop their degree programme.

It promises to make teaching a higher status profession and hence more attractive as a career.

"This development will help to support the teaching profession to become one that is recognised the world over for its consistency in delivering to the highest standards for every child in every school," says Mr Holley.

"Raising the status of teaching to a masters level profession is part of a long-term vision to transform teaching through structured, high quality, practice-based professional development."

Mr Holley is very clear about the parameters. The qualification will be "unlike any other masters degree", he says. "It will be practice-based. It will support teachers with a tutor from a higher education institution and an in-school coach."

There should be clear benefits for teacher recruitment and retention, says Mr Holley.

"We're beginning with NQTs because we know that most people who quit leave the profession in the first five years. And most of those leaving cite lack of support. The in-school coach will offer that support.

"We have consulted widely with the sector and they have given a clear indication of the broad areas the programme should cover. These are around teaching and learning and assessment for learning; how children learn and develop and inclusion; curriculum and subject knowledge for teaching leadership and management and working with others in the children's workforce.

"They were also clear that there needed to be a core programme for all teachers as well as opportunities for them to develop specific expertise."

There will not be any guaranteed career progression, but the degree will integrate the TDA's new professional standards so that teachers and managers can use it in performance management reviews.

Eventually, by 2018, every teacher will have the opportunity to do a masters degree in teaching and learning. "My aspiration is that every teacher will be a better teacher because of this," he says.

"It is," he concludes, "an idea whose time has come."

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