Labour calls for licensing

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?

28 thoughts on “Labour calls for licensing

  1. Dodgy ! It all depends on the content of this proposal ! I just don’t trust politicians especially these grinning ‘new-look new Labour’ types !

    I’d expect thorough consultations and a vote by members of unions before approval ! Also, if standards are to be raised , then so too should wages and pension provisions !

  2. A Royal College of Teachers – must say about time. The teaching profession has been fragmented for far too long. Entitlement to high-quality professional development – a must have. A very promising proposal from Labour and one that will definitely be enticing.

  3. Aren’t teachers continually assessed and monitored anyway? Senior staff do teaching observations termly, targets for improvement are given and checked, these observations are checked by Ofsted to ensure they are in line with there Ofsted assessments of the teacher. They are continually put under pressure to gets SAT results and GCSE grades , this is also monitored by OFSTED ! They are also put through Ofsted inspections every few years and need to be of a standard to ensure the school pass the Ofsted inspection. They are qualified and continually monitored they are continually updating their professional development with courses that are attended and also subject based courses. I feel this licencing of teachers will be a waste of time,as teachers are already continually scrutinised!!

  4. Teachers are as only as good as the management in a school. Without a strong management team who enforce discipline and have effective systems in place this won’t work. Why not license the management or even simpler have national set standards for discipline. As they are using other professions as an example let’s take law. If you speak out of turn in a court you are charged with contempt. Simple low level disruption is not the fault of the teachers but a failure of the management systems in place. If every child and parent knew that if he spoke out of turn in class he would be excluded things would change. Having manament backing you up, supporting you and being on hand is just as important. Stop critising teachers and start setting standards that the whole country adheres to. Teachers aren’t allowed to teach that is the difference. The change has to come from the top down. Bring back punishment and let students learn the hard way. It’s been working for centuries. In sport if a team fails they sack the manager…….Once a teacher finds a school with a strong management and discipline structure the clever ones never leave. A teachers apathy with the professional is usually down to poor support and poor manament. Having procedures in a folder doesn’t work SLT need to be out enforcing and supporting. National set standards for discipline. Parents will be punished with a child at home if they don’t adhere. Military discipline works!

  5. Relicensing? I am qualified to teach. If I cease to qualify then I get sacked if I dont improve. Why do ee need another system? What we do need is the opportunity to teach properly without constant nannying by the state. Onservatiins are useless. Thet are dependent on judgments which vary dependent on the lesson. I know if videoe recorded lessons where the same lesson has been judged by different people. One said it was outstanding and one said it required improvement! It would be funny if teachers’ employment didnt rest on such things.

  6. I absolutely agree that unqualified teachers should be a thing of the past, that’s a no-brainer, surely!
    As far as licensing is concerned, why? So it means “continued professional development,” does it? So how is that a change from what happens now and has happened for the past 10 or 20 years? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…!
    Anyway, how can I take seriously the ideas of a man whose name is “Tristan”? Forgive me, Tristan, if I’m wrong. If you’re NOT a public-school educated career politician who has no idea how children learn or of the many factors that affect their learning, then I might be inclined to consider your ideas. Otherwise, could somebody please find Estelle and tell her all is forgiven.

  7. This is all very well but Doctors and lawers get paid a hell of a lot more and to be outstanding all of the time is exhausting ! Plus it takes over your life which we really dint get paid enough for! Especially as our salary is now capped!

  8. I am amazed a political jargon being used to harrass and try to win votes, teachers have standards which make them qualified to teach. If schools are allowed to take unaqualified teachers then that is another issue that is easily handled. Introducing more beaurocracy into the system will just allow further management bullying in an alrady harrassed profession. Do what I have done, walk away from it. I’m now happier, more time with family, richer, feeling good about myself, have good sleep and although i still would like to continue teaching i feel i have made the best decision.

  9. I just dont understand these politics. Its becoming a witch hunt. Im so scared that i will become a satistic as my school has had me on Ri countless times just because they have tick box exercises to prove to government we are improving. Im a U2 TEACHER. I thought this new appraisel system was showing we were meeting standards. Im not a lazy teacher i currenly teach a full timetable and have covered others lessons plus written coverlessons for others. I have also marked sick teachers groups books.
    I am so frightened . Please please leave us teachers alone……

  10. As always the devil will be in the detail. Are they going to licence everyone? How can you professionally develop someone who is within seven years of retirement?
    How do current supply teachers get licences as by definition they are not employed by a school?

  11. I’m afraid I’ve the cynical view that there’s an election next year and education is always considered a vote winner. Hence Tristram Hunt’s revisited idea at this time. Let’s get the ball rolling and get those votes! I don’t like it personally – I studied as a mature student and was monitored through a four year teaching degree, I have been monitored often by my head teachers and peers plus 5 OFSTED visits in 14 years of teaching. I have a DFEE number without which I can’t teach. And we did have a professional teaching body which this government got rid of. So is it necessary to have yet another monitoring system in the form of licensing? In the time I’ve taught we have seen massive changes to the teaching profession, non more so than during the reign of this government. Most of them do not necessarily better children’s learning, a few do. I do wish that education was taken out of the political arena and the responsibility given to those people who trained to teach and who studied about how children best learn. As in some of the most successful schools in Europe who have apolitical education. I hope that one day we will see this but sadly I expect we won’t.

  12. So, usually, I’m with Labour on a lot of things but if they think they can claim it is the coalition allowing unqualified teachers to become permanent in teacher posts, they may wish to remind themselves that many of us taught under Labour for many years, shoulder to shoulder with unqualified colleagues. Don’t make it political. It isn’t. Some of the best teachers I know are not formally qualified. Why? Because the school employed them as the best current candidate at the time to a shortage area with a promise that the school would fund them through teacher training in a year or so. I knew one lady who had waited eight years on that promise and was still being told ‘no money this year’ on an annual basis. She had eight years of classroom experience in her subject – would I take her over an NQT? Any day! Force schools to train their unqualified staff and give them the money to do so. We’ll have a better workforce for it.

  13. Yet another clueless politician who is so far removed from reality it is a joke ……. jumping on the bandwagon of beating up the public sector. Where, oh where is the politician with brain enough to ask the question, ‘if OFSTED is effective why is there an issue with the quality of education?’ SLT’s throughout the country are out of their depth and they target teacher every time as the scapegoat for their own shortcomings. Illness related to fear and stress amongst teaching staff is the highest it has ever been and it is growing. Experienced staff whose own children have flown the nest are down sizing and jumping ship in order to save their wellbeing, which is exactly what I have done. The outcome is a growing inexperienced work force led by bullying managers who are focused only on their income and pensions, and certainly have no real interest in students or staff.

    If you can sort it – get out asap because it is going to get much worse throughout the foreseeable future.

  14. Didn’t we go through something similar with us having the GTC – another tax on teachers – I am still not sure what exactly the fee every year gave me. I’m happy to be given CPD and be licenced so long as we have the salaries and recognition that these other professions enjoy. We are still in a position where if you actually workout how many hours the majority of teachers work, not only in the building but often until late into the evening, we earn just above the minimum wage. Perhaps if we got paid overtime for hours we worked outside of contracted hours the government would realise what it is doing to teachers and why divorce rates for teachers are on the rise. Let alone more curriculum changes. We could go on for ever – get us a Education Secretary that DOES know what teachers already do.

  15. Mr Hunt is re-hushing old ideas it shows the party is stuck in the past. If he wants ti introduce the same system as lawyers and doctors I welcome that. Will he match then the salary those two professions are earning?
    He says he wants introduce continuous assessment, we’ll has he ever been in classrooms? Does he know what goes on in a class? Does he understands the enormous pressure students are being put on?
    Has he ever thought (if he can by himself) that perhaps teachers need more support to do their jobs instead of bashing them in the heads?
    Does he believe therefore that teachers currently are not professional enough?
    I would like to invite him to spend a week in a classroom with me!

  16. I am wary of an independently educated minister pronouncing on state education. Has Labour not got a minister who would be more in tune with state education? Also, if teachers in Free schools etc., don’t need to be qualified what is the point of licensing? And I do wish they would just stop using the word ‘passionate’.

  17. Don’t employ unqualified teachers. Problem solved! Registration is basically your license. It is then up to schools to provide appropriate CPD and ensure their teachers meet the required standards. If not – get them out. Easy, job done. Anyone who fears the very idea is obviously no good in the first place and probably should be thinking of another career.

    All I can say about the licensing is, it is a waste of money when the answers are already there for free :)

  18. Sounds great, because t the moment teachers could be better. Some are lacking, which affects our ability as students. Should lead to better results and attitude towards schooling as many students are struggling due to poor quality staffing. I have seen many teachers who can’t teach or speak english well so how did they become a teacher and this is fair for students?

    As not everyone can afford private tuition!

  19. Continuous assessment! As if it’s not bad enough already with internal observations and OFSTED. Hunt has admitted that the country has the best teachers it has ever had. He has also admitted that Labour did dumb down the education system and this is why the education system is in trouble. Every teacher knows this but the politicians continue to blame the teachers! I have done the same as Felix and I am now teaching in China where the students work hard and actually listen to their teachers.

  20. Does anyone else feel that the key point in this article is “It will also introduce a system of licensing teachers, *which will allow the worst to be sacked*”?

    Once again, we’ve got an inexperienced, unqualified politico setting up the system whereby a teacher can be threatened with disbarment based solely on an assessment of their teaching skills by an assessor who may well have a vested interest in colouring their report to provide the desired outcome, be that a Head looking for favour with the powerful, a Middle Manager looking for a scapegoat for poor results or a politician hearing a reasoned argument against current policy…

    And forgive me for asking, Mr Hunt, but didn’t the doctors & lawyers set up their own professional bodies without any unasked-for involvement of Government? (eg “A small group of distinguished physicians, led by the scholar and humanist Thomas Linacre, petitioned the King…” – Wikipedia, ref: the Royal College of Physicians.)

  21. Would this licencing to make teachers professionals with equal standing to doctors and lawyers bring with it remuneration comparable to those two professions to teaching?

    The reason these politicians keep changing the goalposts is so that no one can compare one political regime with another. this way, education remains a guaranteed vote winning engine until the public realise that the real problem in education is the continued interference by politicians through the use of their political weapon OFSTED.

    Somehow I fear that the real political agenda is to undermine the education system and monetize it..

  22. I have to be a member of the IFL to teach/to have QTLS and I have to register all my CPD annually so what is is Mr Hunt talking about?

  23. Quite dodgy! This is a disguised attempt to force teachers to spend their free time (do teachers even have any after all the extra planning heaped on them over the last ten years?) and LOADS OF £££ in fee-charging universities, for what is known as ‘continuing education credits’. Such an initiative should come from teachers themselves or the unions, not the from the corporatist state!

  24. The comparison with doctors and lawyers jars for a few reasons. Firstly they are paid a great deal more, often by the state. Secondly as far as I am aware they do not need to pass any test and be re-licensed, a practising solicitor may practise unless disbarred as the result of being reported. If teacher’s careers are to be decided on the basis off Ofsted style inspections every few years I really can’t see who will consider it a long-term career anymore. These politicians do realise that people feed their families by working as teachers and that we’re not all on Teach First or waiting for an inheritance I hope.

  25. I used to teach in a school where all UPS staff were hounded to the point of illness by a bullying headteacher bent on replacing them with cheaper newly qualified staff. Some were, admittedly, past their sell by date and required CPD but other outstanding, experienced teachers left the profession in complete disillusionment. The school now has a very inexperienced teaching force who the head can push around to her heart’s content – but at what cost to the children’s education? I am at a much better school now, but even here all the staff who are over 55, myself included, are counting down to get out as soon as they can because they don’t feel they are teaching what children need anymore. I work primarily with SEN pupils (with a variety of difficulties such as speech and language problems, autism, dyslexia etc.) and I try very hard to tailor my lessons to the needs of the children. These children are not able to understand the structure of NC levels, yet I am still expected to spend a disproportionate amount of every lesson ensuring that they know what level they are working at, what that means and what they have to do (in eduspeak) to get to the next level, so that they can reel it out if I have an observed lesson. They are not performing monkeys, they are children! I have always been passionate about teaching, but now I can’t wait to retire!!!

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