The shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt says that if Labour gets back into power it will improve education in schools, by enforcing professional standards through licensing teachers.
Labour will end the Coalition’s policy of allowing free schools and academies to employ unqualified teachers. It will also introduce a system of licensing teachers, which will allow the worst to be sacked, the BBC reports.
At the moment teachers aren’t licensed and when Labour proposed a ‘licence to practice’ in 2009 the idea received mixed reviews from the teaching unions. Now Tristram Hunt wants to consult with them to see how a new system might be made more acceptable.
His plans include continuous, classroom-based assessment, revalidation every seven or nine years, supervised by a strengthened Royal College of Teaching. “Just like lawyers and doctors they should have the same professional standing which means relicensing themselves, which means continued professional development, which means being the best possible they can be,” he said.”If you’re not a motivated teacher – passionate about your subject, passionate about being in the classroom – then you shouldn’t really be in this profession.”
Labour is claiming that this proves that it puts classroom standards first, while the Coalition focuses on school structures. “International evidence is clear: the quality of teaching – not an obsessive focus on the type of school – is what drives up standards,” Mr. Hunt added.
Another priority for a Labour government would be to end the policy of allowing state schools to employ unqualified teachers. Although he recognised that the UK has ‘the best generation of teachers ever in our schools’, Mr. Hunt said: “David Cameron and Michael Gove have watered down standards, allowing unqualified teachers into schools on a permanent basis.”
Kevin Courtney from the NUT gave licensing a guarded welcome:”If this turned out to be a continuation of the Michael Gove denigration of teachers, a top-down judgemental prescription of how teachers teach, it would be very negative,” he said. “But if relicensing were truly based on a new entitlement to high-quality professional development that was controlled by the teacher profession, then we could talk about the details of how to improve it.”
What do you think of Tristram Hunt’s proposals? Would you welcome being licensed – and should unqualified teachers in the classroom be a thing of the past?