Chasing standards with fluttering certificates

The Commons Education Select Committee reported this week that teachers “need better qualifications” (read the BBC report here), with at least a 2:2 in their first degree. Poor literacy, numeracy, ICT skills and subject knowledge are clearly a worry; and in a bid to raise standards, the bar is being moved higher for entrants to the profession in line with many other graduate entry-level jobs.

At first glance, it sounds reasonable enough that the distinguished minds shaping the country’s future should have come out of university with a decent degree. However, when you consider that between graduation and classroom-qualified there are already a number of hurdles to jump: entry to teacher training course, successful completion of teacher training, passing NQT year, performance management after that…one would hope that these selection procedures would weed out those unable to make the grade. Inspirational teachers aren’t just the cleversocks with the redbrick 2:1s either, and I can think of many colleagues past and present who are outstanding in the classroom but would fall short of this requirement.

On top of this, the GTC; desperate for a proper remit, will end up administering a new ‘license to practise’ for existing staff. They must be rubbing their hands with glee as they see themselves one day having some proper gravitas like their more esteemed neighbours at the General Medical Council, with little concern for the squandering of taxpayers’ money that this will entail. Ignoring existing threshold assessments, annual performance management and good old monitoring and evaluation, the license to teach undermines schools’ capacity to raise the bar themselves. Another flock of posh-looking folders that will sit and gather dust in schools around the country is too close to becoming reality, for no better reason than to make the Westminster folk feel better about the legacy teachers in post for the next forty years. This is a nonsense in my view and if anything, time would be much better spent reviewing and streamlining the performance management and competency procedures properly to ensure that the good teachers stay and flourish and the struggling ones are properly supported with tailored CPD or allowed to move out of the profession with dignity.

1 Response

  1. Sacha Van Straten February 18, 2010 / 3:43 pm

    Great post.

    I agree with you entirely.

    The triumph of the bureaucrats will leave the students in the classrooms all the poorer.

    Another example of centralised policy wonks taking no account of needs on the ground. Quel dommage!


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