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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Barrow School’s head sceptical about proposals to ‘license’ teachers

THERE is scepticism in the Furness area over proposals to “license” teachers.

Shadow education minister Tristram Hunt says under a Labour government teachers would have their lessons assessed by other staff in a system overseen by a new Royal College of Teaching.

Regular checks on the quality of teaching would be put in place and teachers would have to demonstrate their subject knowledge and skills are up to date. Mr Hunt said he wanted the “enormously important” role of teachers to be recognised.

But Caroline Hoggarth, headteacher at Greengate Infant, Nursery and Pre School in Barrow, is sceptical about the plans – but believes “teachers should meet a threshold”.

Mrs Hoggarth said: “It is already in force in Australia and seems to be working well. I just hope it isn’t used as a tool to work against teachers because we have some really excellent teachers in the Furness area.”

A similar proposal was floated by the previous Labour government – and branded “classroom MoTs” by former schools secretary Ed Balls. However, it was opposed by some teaching unions and dropped before the 2010 general election.

Alan Rutter, Cumbria secretary for the National Union of Teachers, believes in many ways what Mr Hunt put forward this week is “a bit of old news”.

Mr Rutter said: “Before the current government came into power we had the General Teaching Council which aimed to improve and maintain the standard of teaching. Registration with the GTC was a legal requirement for all qualified teachers in maintained schools and if there were any questions over the quality of teaching, then they would face the council.”

Mr Rutter believes Mr Hunt is “slightly mixed up” and said: “There are appraisal processes for teachers and their practice is already assessed, so maybe it’s a chance for politicians to get in the paper more than anything else.”

Mr Hunt said: “Just like lawyers and doctors they should have the same professional standing which means re-licensing themselves, which means continued professional development, which means being the best they can be.”

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