Labour plan for teacher licences to 'update skills'

 

Tristram Hunt: ''This is about believing that teachers have this enormous importance''

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Teachers would have to be licensed every few years in order to work in England's state schools under a future Labour government, the BBC has learned.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said regular re-licensing of teachers would allow the worst ones to be sacked whilst helping others to receive more training and development.

The last government made a similar proposal for what became known as "classroom MOTs" but then dropped it.

Unions criticised it as "pointless".

The Conservatives said they had already taken steps to improve teaching standards.

When former schools secretary Ed Balls proposed a so-called "licence to practise" in 2009, the National Union of Teachers said it would be "another unnecessary hurdle" for teachers while the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said it would be a "bureaucratic nightmare" to introduce.

But the NASUWT and National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) came out in favour of the plans at the time.

At the moment teachers are not licensed.

Indeed, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have criticised the fact that some of those working in the government's new "free schools" can teach without having "qualified teacher status".

Passion

Tristram Hunt told the BBC the idea was about recognising the "enormously important" role that teachers played and helping the profession "grow".

"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.

"So if you're not willing to engage in relicensing to update your skills then you really shouldn't be in the classroom," he added.

Although the "devil would be in the detail", the NUT said it could potentially be a positive development.

Nick Wigmore, a primary school teacher, said the plans were "unnecessary"

"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," said union official Kevin Courtney.

"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.

"It could be very positive for education."

However, NUT general secretary Christine Blower added: "There will be a good many teachers who will just see this as another hurdle."

Ian Fenn, the head teacher of Burnage Media Arts College in Manchester, told BBC Breakfast that in principle he would welcome the licensing plan.

But he warned: "If it's going to be a test, that would be absolutely the wrong way to go about it - we're not cars, we don't need an MoT."

Start Quote

If it's going to be a test, that would be absolutely the wrong way to go about it - we're not cars, we don't need an MoT”

End Quote Ian Fenn Head teacher

The largest teaching union NASUWT said "important preconditions" needed to be met before the move could be introduced.

And Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, hit out at commentators for hijacking any debate about how to improve the profession and turning it into an attempt to "root out incompetent teachers".

"No group of workers, least of all teachers, deserves to be treated in this way," she said.

Classroom standards

Labour plans to consult with the unions on how a new system of licensing might be made more acceptable to them.

The assessments would be continuous, based in the classroom and would involve external assessors and not just school staff. Re-licensing of teachers could take place every seven or nine years and not five as under the Balls plan.

A newly strengthened Royal College of Teaching could be used to issue and supervise the licences.

Kevin Courtney, NUT: ''This is more denigration of teachers''

There have been calls from across the political spectrum for the creation of a new professional body like the General Medical Council which would be separate from both the unions and the government.

Labour is hoping to use this announcement to claim it is interested in classroom standards while the Conservatives are, instead, focusing on school structures.

They also want to show that they are willing to stand up to the unions.

The coalition has recently introduced annual appraisals for doctors supervised by the General Medical Council. They face a decision every five years on whether they can continue to practice.

A Conservative Party spokesman said the party would look at any proposals which would genuinely improve the quality of teaching.

"We have already taken action by allowing heads to remove teachers from the classroom in a term, as opposed to a year previously, and scrapping the three-hour limit on classroom observations.

"We are improving teacher training, expanding Teach First and allowing heads to pay good teachers more. Thanks to our reforms, a record proportion of top graduates are entering the profession.

"Fixing the schools system so young people have the skills they need is a key part of our long-term economic plan. That will mean better schools for our communities and a better education for young people who want to get on," he said.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 414.

    The world of Teaching shocks me, the norm is to work evenings too marking and preparing lessons for the next day, it is a version of Victorian working hell.

    I thought this sort of practice was outlawed by the human rights people?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 413.

    What would be the unemployment level if there weren't monitors and monitors monitoring the monitors?It's better than them selling The Big Issue.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 412.

    I was feeling betrayed by Labour but they have redeemed themselves by proposing licences for teachers. Why shouldn't the socialist zealots who try to indoctrinate our children be licensed?
    Clearly Labour feels it has failed us in the past as the Labour Lords recently stated we couldn't be trusted to vote responsibly on Europe so now they want the teachers out who they consider responsible.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 411.

    396
    How do parents know how good a teacher is? Popular is not the same as good.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 410.

    Why doesn't Tristram Hunt call for something really radical: like children being taught by TEACHERS rather than teaching assistants? Oh, silly me! He can't say that can he? Teaching assistants are the biggest membership group within the GMB Union - a Labour affiliate - so that's a no go area for Labour 'reform'. Teaching unions are not affiliated to Labour, so their members are fair game?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 409.

    There are some more interesting points:
    Academies no longer have to employ qualified teachers, they can employ employ anyone......
    Given that the majority of schools are now academies, how are Ed and his cronies going to sort that out?
    Why only State school? Just because you pay for a private education does not make the teachers any better?
    If you are going to do this then all or nothing.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 408.

    Teachers lobby out in force today? The job's important (so is a truck driver's, and that needs a licence) and it's perfectly reasonable that teachers should be able to show themselves as capable from the outset and reviewed every few years. It's not a job that you can apply normal performance targets to, as poor results from pupils aren't necessarily the teachers fault. Doctors next, please.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 407.

    This sounds a bit too nanny state for my liking. I don't think we should let this man loose on our education system. He might make a hunt of it . . . .

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 406.

    Labour have lost my vote on this one. Teachers are checked via Performance Management, Observations and walking inspections from head teachers LMTs already. When teachers have to take on more silliness outside the class the profession suffers. At outstanding schools with outstanding teachers these central policies demoralised, have record teacher numbers leaving the profession, a downward spiral.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 405.

    The General Teaching Council was the last attempt to make teachers more like doctors and lawyers. As a teacher, I don't remember feeling any closer to doctors or lawyers then. Good teachers gain the respect of their pupils, parents and colleagues through their day-to-day work, not through registration.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 404.

    You cannot argue against sacking poor teachers but who decides they are poor? I have already seen that management target the people they WANT to get rid of before gathering the evidence. The evidence is rigged.

    If we get get rid of teachers will someone guarantee that the replacements will be better? Where will the replacements come from? Who in their right mind wants to teach now?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 403.

    This will never happen.

    Labour's puppet masters, the unions will quickly block this.

    Look at the number of teachers Labour sacked for incompetence during their decade of power - just 17 in 10 years out of 400,000 teachers!

    0 out of 10 - must try harder.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 402.

    No doubt, this daft plan would have to be implemented by senior management of schools. Their mental and physical health is under sufficient strain from the inappropriate bean-counting that has permeated the education systems of the UK nations throughout the last 35 years. Where is there a shred of evidence that it would get rid of poor teachers and encourage good ones?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 401.

    Is there really a point to this? Surely a truly incompetent teacher would be rooted out by virtue of their obvious failings within 5 weeks through existing observations, let alone 5 years, by which time serious damage has already been done. On the other hand, it certainly didn't work that way with the banks!

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 400.

    380 "So Mr Hunt will be ensuring an "enormous" increase in salaries to reflect that?" - they are paid pretty much exactly what a 2:2 in political science and geography from the University of Bangor is worth, and then they get the huge holidays and the other perks.

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 399.

    I was teaching at a school where another member of staff was just not up to the job. The head gave lots of support & eventually warnings over 6 months until the teacher finally resigned before he was sacked. Good schools can already manage poor staff. Weaker schools simply need to be helped to achieve what is already best practice. Successive governments must stop interfering!!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 398.

    The real issue here is that our school system does not resemble the best practice from around the world.

    However, doing this would involve some COURAGE from our politicians, and it's been a long time since we had anyone in government with any of that. Get elected/rich quick, blame the usual scapegoats and disappear into obscurity. Maybe we need a better democracy.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 397.

    Is Hunt hoping to displace Gove as the worst Minister of Education ever?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 396.

    I am not sure Ofsted inspectors or whatever bureaucrats they might decide to give this power over teachers will be judging the teachers on what really matters.
    What would not trust the failed teachers who became Ofsted inspectors judge teachers on but their PC rubbish?

    The only people who should judge are the parents choosing the school for their children (which is why free schools are important)

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 395.

    I have no knowledge of teachers' skills these days. However, I do hear too many, much too many stories of children disrupting classes, children's lack of EQ skills, parents asking teachers why their children are so naughty and what are they going to do about it... It's pretty obvious it's not a one-sided problem.

 

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  53.  
    11:31: Poll tracker

    While we are looking at trackers, how are the parties faring? Compare current ratings from a range of pollsters, and see how parties have performed since 2010 with our interactive poll tracker.

    Poll tracker
     
  54.  
    Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk Get involved

    Christine St Claire in UK, emails: A fifteen minute visit is just ludicrous. Of course visits need to be longer. How can anyone get the help they need in such a short time. Well done Ed Miliband, you will get my vote.

     
  55.  
    11:24: Significant slowdown? Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    The BBC's economics editor Robert Peston asks: How significant is the slowdown in the British economy, given that the dominant service sector is still booming, but construction is shrinking and manufacturing almost back to flatlining?

     
  56.  
    11:24: GDP figures
    Rolled up sterline notes

    Mr Balls was speaking after ONS figures showed the UK's economy grew by 2.6% last year, the fastest pace since 2007 and up from 1.7% in 2013 - although there was a slowdown in the final three months of 2014.

     
  57.  
    Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk Get involved

    Christine Anderson in UK, emails: Unless carers are paid a decent wage and travel money the proposals won't make any difference

     
  58.  
    Tweet @BBC_HaveYourSay Get involved

    @carowilb tweets: 100 days until the general election. I'm intrigued to see what Cameron is going to come up with #NHS

     
  59.  
    11:09: Ed Balls on living standards BBC News Channel
    Ed Balls

    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls also told the BBC News Channel living standards had been stagnant for too long. "When Conservatives say they have fixed the economy, most people say who for, not for me... if that's Tory success, just think of what failure would look like."

     
  60.  
    11:00: Election pledges
    Ed Miliband David Cameron

    A quick recap - with 100 days to the election, Labour and the Conservative Party are setting out their stalls. Ed Miliband has given a speech on Labour's "10-year plan" for the NHS - which pledges new safety checks to identify people at risk of hospitalisation and recruiting 5,000 new home care - in Manchester. Meanwhile, David Cameron has been outlining plans to cut the benefits cap - from £26,000 to £23,000 - to pay for more apprenticeships.

     
  61.  
    10:50: GDP figures
    Graph showing components of UK GDP

    This is from the BBC's Business Live team: It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth. In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year.

     
  62.  
    10:49: Mental health

    Mr Miliband says there is still a stigma with mental health, and the nation has got to find a way to talk about it.

     
  63.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Ed Miliband: "Because of his broken promises, what tuition fees are for Nick Clegg, the NHS has become for David Cameron."

     
  64.  
    10:40: Dementia care

    Ed Miliband is now taking questions from the audience in Trafford, including on his plans for dementia care and the role of pharmacies in the NHS.

     
  65.  
    10:39: Key principle

    A bit more on that speech by Ed Miliband - he said the "key principle" to making the NHS sustainable and successful is investment, so the NHS has "time to care".

     
  66.  
    10:33: Trust

    David Cameron can't be trusted with our NHS, Mr Miliband suggests.

     
  67.  
    10:32: 'Wrong values'

    The Labour leader says David Cameron puts the wrong values at the heart of the NHS and the future of the health service is at stake in the general election. "Let's go out and fight for it." he says.

     
  68.  
    10:30: 'No time to care'

    Mr Miliband says people in their 70s and even 80s are currently waiting hours for ambulances to arrive, getting stuck outside hospital in ambulances because A&E is full, and lying on trolleys in corridors. It is an NHS "without enough time to care", he says.

     
  69.  
    10:29: Two futures of NHS
    Ed Miliband Ed Miliband setting out his plans for the NHS

    The Labour leader says the country faces a choice of two futures - continuing with a Conservative plan, which has led to an "NHS in crisis" and "threatens the service as we know it". Or a Labour plan to "rescue" the NHS, invest in its future and join up services from home to hospital.

     
  70.  
    10:25: NHS 'in peril'

    Ed Miliband says the "precious" institution faces its "most perilous moment in a generation".

     
  71.  
    10:25: Ed Miliband on NHS

    Ed Miliband is now delivering a speech on the NHS in Trafford, Manchester.

     
  72.  
    10:24: More on GDP BBC News Channel

    The ONS's chief economist, Joe Grice, tells the BBC News Channel it's "too early to say" if this slowdown will persist. "The dominant services sector remains buoyant while the contraction has taken place in industries like construction, mining and energy supply, which can be erratic," he says.

     
  73.  
    10:23: GDP breakdown

    A breakdown of those GDP figures. The dominant services sector, which represents more than three quarters of output, grew by 0.8% - meaning services are now 7.9% ahead of their pre-downturn level at the start of 2008. Growth was dragged down by construction, which contracted by 1.8% - its worst slowdown since the second quarter of 2012.

     
  74.  
    09:54: GDP figures

    But the 0.5% growth in the final three months of 2014 represents a slight slowdown from the previous three months, which saw 0.7% growth.

     
  75.  
    09:51: GDP figures

    To put that 2.6% figure in context, that's the UK's best annual growth since 2007. In 2013, the economy grew by 1.7%.

     
  76.  
    09:49: GDP figures

    Reacting to those GDP figures, Chancellor George Osborne says they confirm the recovery is "on track". "Our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm, with the fastest growth of any major economy in 2014. But the international climate is getting worse, and with 100 days to go until the election now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos," he says.

     
  77.  
    09:44: GDP figures

    BBC's business correspondent Ben Thompson says the ONS GDP figures are good news, but not as good as was expected. The services industry is doing quite well, but construction is dragging it down, he says.

     
  78.  
    09:32: Breaking News

    ONS says UK economy grew by 0.5% during the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 2.6% over the year.

     
  79.  
    09:27: Key dates

    The parties are ramping up their campaigns - and with 100 days until people go to the polls, the BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

     
  80.  
    09:14: TV debates

    Here's a bit more on who said what on the TV debates this morning - and whether a deal is any closer. The latest proposal from the broadcasters suggested a seven-way debate between the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on the BBC and ITV.

     
  81.  
    09:10: BBC analysis

    Get the expert analysis behind the election pledges. The BBC's Health Editor Hugh Pym blogs on Labour, the NHS and social care integration and the editor of the BBC's Political Research Unit David Cowling explains why this general election is impossible to call.

     
  82.  
    09:00: Poll tracker

    So with 100 days to go, how are the parties faring? Compare current ratings from a range of pollsters, and see how parties have performed since 2010 with our interactive poll tracker.

    Poll tracker
     
  83.  
    08:43: New nuggets Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Norman Smith says with 100 days to go until the election, the main parties are sticking to the themes they've stuck to for weeks - Labour on the NHS, and Tories on the economy. He says there are a couple of new nuggets from David Cameron though - a hint he's minded to continue protecting pensioner benefits such as bus passes and winter fuel allowances, and a view that Northern Ireland should be included in TV debates.

     
  84.  
    08:31: Not no, but not a yes either Nick Robinson Political editor

    Nick Robinson says David Cameron doesn't want to be seen to be saying "no" to the TV debates - but he's not exactly saying "yes" either.

     
  85.  
    08:30: Ed Milband on election BBC Breakfast

    The Labour leader says "Britain can do a lot better" and his party wants to put working people first. "This is a big election, and I'm going to fight for it," he says.

     
  86.  
    08:28: Cameron on TV debates BBC Radio 4 Today

    David Cameron says you can't include SNP and Plaid without having parties from Northern Ireland. He says that he initially was making the point that the Greens should take part, but the broadcasters have gone further. He says he had also had concerns about the debates taking place during the election campaign itself - he thinks they dominate the campaign too much.

     
  87.  
    08:26: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Breakfast

    Explaining how Labour is going to fund an extra £2.5bn a year across the UK for the NHS, Mr Milband says the party has "very clear plans" to raise the cash - from mansion tax, clamping down on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco firms' market share.

     
  88.  
    08:23: In quotes: Cameron on benefits cap BBC Radio 4 Today
    David Cameron
     
  89.  
    08:20: Miliband on the sofa BBC Breakfast
    Ed Miliband
     
  90.  
    08:19: Ed Miliband on TV debates BBC Breakfast

    "The PM is wriggling and wriggling to get out of these debates - let's make these debates happen," says Ed Miliband.

     
  91.  
    08:16: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Breakfast

    The Labour leader is talking about the NHS again. He tells BBC Breakfast the "iron curtain" between health and social care isn't serving us well. "The NHS has got to start taking an interest in the social care system," he says.

     
  92.  
    08:16: David Cameron on benefits cap BBC Radio 4 Today

    David Cameron says that families subject to the existing benefits cap have been more likely to find work than people not hit by the cap. His party is "unashamedly pro-work and pro- people who work hard". The Conservatives are proposing to lower the cap from £26,000 to £23,000 a year and use the money saved to boost apprenticeships.

     
  93.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    tweets: "There's horror and there's hope". @Ed_Miliband speaks movingly of his grandfather who died in a Nazi camp & those who were saved @bbc5live

     
  94.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: The most arresting sequence of Ed Miliband's @bbc5live interview was about Labour leader's loss of his grandfather in the Holocaust

     
  95.  
    Ed Miliband on TV debates BBC Radio 5 live

    "He gives it the big one about leadership," says Ed Miliband. If so, why is he so scared of the TV debates, the Labour leader asks of David Cameron. Mr Miliband says he'll take part, even if there's an empty chair where the Conservative leader should be.

     
  96.  
    08:00: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    He says the NHS is always going to be a priority for Labour and "staff and patients are crying out for a sense of a plan" for it - adding that his party has "the right policy and the right plan".

     
  97.  
    07:56: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    Labour leader Ed Miliband there is a "big fight on for the future of the NHS" and that he wants to "rescue" it, not weaponise it.

     
  98.  
    07:53: Ed Miliband talking NHS BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed Miliband on 5live
     
  99.  
    07:47: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    The shadow health secretary says the country needs to "rethink" the way we care for older people, who are often "trapped" on hospital beds and subject to "flying 15-minute visits" by social care workers on home visits. "We need to support people with dementia and autism as well as those with cancer," he says.

     
  100.  
    07:39: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, tells BBC's Radio 4's Today programme the Labour Party is planning to "re-set" the NHS in England as the "National Health and Social Care Service".

     

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