Why the new Teachers' Standards matter to teachers everywhere

Roy Blatchford, Deputy ChairChair of Drafting Group - Director, National Education Trust

Tes Editorial

September 2012 will see the introduction of new Teachers' Standards which will replace the existing qualified teacher status (QTS) and Core standards, and the GTCE's Code of Practice for Registered Teachers in England. The new standards set out the minimum requirements for teachers' professional practice and conduct. Teachers' performance will be assessed against them as part of the new appraisal arrangements for schools.

In drawing up the standards during 2011, the group's remit was to develop new standards of competence, ethics and behaviour which reflect the trust and professionalism society should expect from its teachers.

On a personal note, I have had the great privilege since leaving headship to observe over 7000 classrooms, from Mumbai to New York, Barcelona to Birmingham, Jeddah to Jarrow. At their best, these are the vibrant classrooms which teachers create because they are spending many of their waking hours within them. They are the places where young minds flourish. These sparkling classrooms are places and atmospheres which remain long in the minds and spirits of the learners.

We considered a wide range of international and national evidence, including evidence submitted by key users of standards before developing the Teachers' Standards. We felt the new standards had to provide a benchmark of the minimum requirements that should be expected of trainees and teachers.

In essence, the standards had to raise the bar and highlight the characteristics of good teaching. Above all, the standards needed to be clear, simple and assessable, and identify the key elements of teaching, and the expectations of professional conduct that underpin the practice of teachers at all career stages.

We were clear, however, that the standards should not define the award of QTS and the end of a teacher's induction period as two separate career stages, principally because the induction period should be about consolidating ITT and demonstrating consistency of practice. Trainees and teachers should demonstrate that they meet all of the standards, which define the level of practice at which all qualified teachers should be expected to perform.

The new standards do not prescribe in detail what good or outstanding teaching looks like; this should be determined by ITT providers, head teachers and teachers, using their professional judgement as relevant to context, roles and responsibilities. The new standards should assist them in making such decisions by providing a clear framework within which such judgements can be made.

The Review also recommended that the Post-Threshold, Excellent Teacher and Advanced Skills Teacher standards should be discontinued, and advocated the introduction of a Master Teacher Standard. The Secretary of State is currently considering these recommendations and will respond in due course. In the meantime, these existing higher-level standards continue to apply.

It is the Review Group's view that the new Teachers' Standards, and the proposed new Master Teacher Standard will provide a new progressive career framework for teachers that will both raise the prestige of the profession, and improve teacher quality.

The new Teachers' Standards, effective from 1 September 2012,can be found on the DfE website. The Teachers' Standards Review reports can be found on the Review's webpage.

Roy Blatchford is contactable via www.nationaleducationtrust.net - his book Sparkling Classrooms is available from this website.

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Tes Editorial

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