I love the Teachers' Standards (and you should, too!)

We're obsessed with the Teachers' Standards as NQTs - but only later do we appreciate their value, says Vicki Rotheram

Vicki Rotheram

Teaching practice and pedagogy: Why I love the Teachers' Standards

You may have read the headline of this article and gasped, let out a little expletive and wondered if I might be mad. The answer is yes, a little, but hear me out.

Working with colleagues in initial teacher training across a number of schools and age phases has cemented my understanding of the eight main teachers' standards – so much so that I know them off by heart.

Assessment and data? TS6. Planning and preparation? TS4. Oh, subject knowledge? You must be talking about TS3. 


I think every teacher, senior leader and trainee can benefit from getting to grips with the nuances of each standard, regardless of the stage of their career.

In the early years of teaching, the Teachers' Standards are paramount, if irritating. Spending hours labouring over documents, collecting evidence to prove Qualified Teacher Status is not a pleasant task.

Teachers' Standards: so quickly forgotten?

For most colleagues, the end of their NQT year means the standards themselves are no longer a consideration in their daily practice. What was so necessary and important before is suddenly put to the back of the mind. 

But where I think the standards come into their own is when a teacher is three or four years down the road in their career and they are able to come back to the Teachers' Standards and really engage with them.

It is then that phrases such as “demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas, and promote the value of scholarship” are really understood.

Becoming an expert at your craft

The first years as a novice teacher are all about staying afloat. It is in the later years that we become experts at our craft. We no longer spend hours perfecting a learning objective, it comes naturally. Likewise, our subject and curriculum knowledge has grown, so we don’t need to research Ancient Egypt as much. We don’t need to pick apart the A-level assessment objectives any further, we know them by heart.

So we move to improving our practice, we look at evidence-based theory and application, we join committees and embroil ourselves in debates and wider CPD. 

Some may argue that the Teachers' Standards are no longer important when you get to this part of your teaching career, but, from my experience, this is the exact opposite. Why spend time improving practice if it is not rooted in the foundations of good teaching? 

I observe and interact with colleagues teaching across key stage 1 all the way to KS5 in a variety of subjects, and it is the teaching standards that allow me to do this confidently; they are the same regardless of your subject or preferred key stage. 

My own teaching has improved since rediscovering the Teachers' Standards – in my role as head of department, I did not look upon them at all but in the past few years they have been part of my everyday life and so when I am planning a lesson for Year 9, I can reflect on the standards and apply them over a scheme of work or a sequence of lessons, ensuring that I am meeting all of them (as much as possible). 

I would recommend that all long-in-the-tooth teachers go and have a look at the standards. Even the rather nebulous standard two will mean something different to you now that you are no longer a trainee.

Vicki Rotheram is an assistant principal at Shrewsbury International School (Riverside) in Bangkok. She leads the newly established Shrewsbury Institute. She has taught internationally for six years

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